I haven't sunk my teeth into a JPRG since FFVII. What have I missed?
Final Fantasy VIII was pretty cool. Also showed that Nobuo Uematsu could continue making badass soundtracks.
Final Fantasy IX had strangely endearing characters, and backed away from the melodrama and seriousness of the previous.
It's... debatably gone downhill from Final Fantasy X.
As for non FF things,
The Kingdom Hearts series unfortunately proved you could not only make some money on a game banking solely on nostalgia, but also that you could even make a franchise that banked solely on nostalgia. And not just a little money - a fuck ton of it. Look up some sales for it. But it was also a pretty bombass game, and a neat mix of eastern / non-eastern characters, though the use of said characters was pretty predicting, and forgettable. Sephiroth shows up. Cloud broods. Sid appears. There's anime-style main characters. There's melodrama.
Rogue Galaxy was amazing, namely because it actually pushed the envelope a bit, had a great translation, as well as a (mostly) great VO cast. And while it tried to still do some sappy melodrama in certain places, it certainly wasn't as overblown as KH or most of FF. Some of the mechanics in it were a really well-designed factory system, having shops get new items as you leveled (I had never seen this used in a JRPG prior to this. As a reference, this game came out in 2005 in Japan.), a great active battle system, and most importantly it had bosses that kept changing it up on you (some of them were ridiculously hard, like Dego's boss fight, and the boss fight in the two towers was too easy, (and the fact that there were two of them just made me even more over-leveled by the time I got to the second one) but most were well-balanced.)
Also, Persona 4 happened. You should probably watch the endurance run of it.