IJN Cruisers force you to learn a wide variety of aspects in the game.
Gunnery in ranges where BBs LOVE to shoot at.
Torpedoes. USN Cruisers lose Torpedo capability in the tech tree from Tier VI onwards, everyone else keeps them the entire game.
Knowing when to use AP or their excellent HE shells.
Protecting their citadels, the upper tier IJN Cruisers are floating citadels.
USN Cruisers were the first line I worked on in this game but if I were able to do it over again, I would have done IJN Cruisers first. They make you learn a lot of things and they give you good weapons to do them with. IMO, they are the most "all around" Cruisers in the game.
The worst Cruiser line for a newbie is RN Cruiser line. They offer a lot of tools to excel with but any mistake, you're dead.
This is actually a good point.
As a newbie what is your objective ?
- Do you wanna learn the game. This means that you are facing a steep learning curve. You will have a lot of frustrating games as your error margin is razor thin. However, as Haze said, once you 'go through the grinder' you will emerge with a broad knowledge of the game enabling you to quickly transit to Destroyers, other Cruisers and Battleships (particularly the Germans).
If this is your choice then indeed go for IJN (or even RN) Cruisers...
- On the other hand, do you want to 'ease up into the game' and be competitive but stifling your learning of the game. You will have less 'bad games' as the boat you choose will be a lot more forgiving of the typical newbie errors. After the basics of the games have no secret for you (WASD hax!!), then you can step up to something more challenging. You will also be able to see the other boats in actions and decide what style of play you want to develop.
If this is your choice then I suggest either USN Cruiser or Kriegsmarine BB