It's Season 2 of the fluffy fantasy action anime that's not far off most people's ideas of a children's show. I wouldn't recommend it in a million years, but it's sort of fun. Apparently some fans think it's worse than Season 1 because it's more episodic and introduces more characters, but personally I'd say comparisons are almost meaningless. It's Dog Days. It's harmless and likeable. "Good" doesn't really enter into it. I might even call it an improvement, because:
(a) even if it's still written by Masaki Tsuzuki, at least this time he's not taking the piss with ever-shifting rules on Earth-Flonyard travel.
(b) more girls and less focus on Shinku, who's no longer the One Unbeatable Hero. He's brought along his best friend Becky and his cousin Nanami, so suddenly we have three humans with equal hero status. Thus we no longer know who'll win any battle before it begins, since a human vs. human showdown is unpredictable. What's more, we learn at the end that Shinku's never beaten Nanami at anything, so presumably she'd been kicking his arse throughout this series when we weren't watching. Good. I like Shinku, but I also like story balance.
(c) less war.
The show's premise hasn't changed. Flonyard is a fantasy world of cat girls, dog girls, squirrel girls, etc. (There are also boys, but you could be forgiven for not noticing.) They're often at war, but this is magical war where no one gets hurt. It's fun for all the family.
That said, though, there's less war. There's a battle in eps.1-3, then another in eps.9-11. Otherwise it's just gentle little adventures and happy excursions where everyone's all friends together. I approve. The fights are too happy and jolly to be actually boring, but they're still fairly pointless. The show's even managed to tone down what few hard edges we had in Season 1, since there's no death prophecy any more and the script's no longer trying to fool us into thinking that anyone might be trapped anywhere.
It's significantly pervier. Girls get naked in almost every episode. There are one or two exceptions (ep.12), but clearly the show's decided that bath scenes and magical strip attacks are part of the formula. There's even a nude conversation about boob size in ep.4, which is pretty much the beginning of the end, while Becky's magical transformation in ep.2 is more perverted than nudity. It's surreal. It's more startling than Tsubomi's in Papillon Rose and that was adults-only parody.
What about the relationships? Everyone's thirteen or so and there's absolutely no hanky-panky, or even a suggestion of it. Shinku's got the mind of a child. He knows to try to avoid getting cuddly with naked girls, but nothing would happen even if he did. I suspect he hasn't yet reached puberty. The girls discuss it and agree that he's still too much of a child to be interested in romance. No one thinks anything of it when he has a bath with Couvert in ep.13, since obviously nothing was going to happen. Admittedly the show's also giving us a ton of relationship tease, but it's going nowhere and there's not even any resolution of anything. What's your favourite pairing? Shinku-Millhi? Shinku-Becky? Shinku-Eclair? All possibilities get lots of encouragement, including, bizarrely, from each other. Technically the girls are rivals, but they're also best friends and you could almost conclude that Becky-Millhi is the show's real One True Couple.
The gender imbalance means that there are also some interesting girl-girl relationships, actually. Becky-Millhi are lovely together. They discuss Shinku, their fears and their futures with admirable openness, earnestly encouraging each other. They're certainly by far the closest couple in the show, staring deeply into each other's eyes and making a big deal about being separated in ep.4. However that's just subtext. Couvert's lesbian love for Becky on the other hand is spelled out and unambiguous, with Couvert declaring love at first sight and an intention to seduce her in ep.2, saying she'd propose marriage in ep.3 and keeping this up for the rest of the season. Yes, Becky's being targeted by a squirrel. It's not even being taken less seriously than the other potential relationships, with Couvert's distress in ep.12 and an intensely significant parting gift in ep.13.
Basically, though, they're all just friends. They all love each other. It's sweet. The girls are starting to consider possibilities and have discussions that would go over Shinku's head, but nothing's going to happen and you could imagine almost any two characters getting married and being very happy together.
What's almost certainly happening, I think, is that the show's producers are staying equidistant from all fan factions. Becky, Millhi and Eclair all have their followers. There's thus enough relationship tease to keep everyone happy.
Is there any stupid writing? Nanami and Becky pick up magical knowledge with surprising speed in ep.2, having landed in the middle of a war barely ten seconds ago. The episode handwaves it with "Leon-sama taught it to me", etc. but it still made me blink. There's also a bit in ep.13 where two native English-speakers think calling someone Becky rather than Rebecca is childish, which is a comprehension failure of how we use names in English. I sit opposite a Becky at work. (Something like that does apply in Japanese, mind you.) Apart from those points, though? Not a lot. Shinku's Big Hero Punch in ep.6 is perhaps a bit eye-rolling, but that's just corny rather than stupid.
It reminded me more than last time of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, usually specifically of ViVid. (It's the natural comparison, since they're both Masaki Tsuzuki shows.) Obviously the premise is similar, viz. magical battles as a internationally televised sporting event, with lots of young girls fighting each other while staying best friends. (Unlike ViVid, however, this show is watchable because the girls aren't battle-obsessed and instead still manage to seem normal and likeable.) More specifically, also, Shinku and Gaul acquire transformation sequences into adults for battle. There's a bit in ep.10 where two girls promising to fight each other is framed as practically a love declaration. Those I don't mind. However I lost patience with Masaki Tsuzuki's continued love of guns, even in a fantasy setting. It's most noticeable in Pastillage. Couvert likes guns, Adelaide Grand Marnier is packing serious heat and the Demon King's magical jewel in ep.12 turns into... a STUPIDLY BIG GUN! I rolled my eyes. A centuries-old Demon King gives you a magic item in a dungeon and that's what you get? Hello, banal imagination failure.
It's pronounced "Dog Days Dash", by the way. Season 3 will be "Dog Days Double Dash".
I like it. I think it works. There's more variety in this year's stories, even if there's no real weight to any of the pseudo-danger and none of it really matters. I also admire the show's niceness, e.g. our heroes' concern even for vanquished foes. The point of sealing demons isn't to imprison them, but to help them heal and return to health. Kleptomaniac monsters will be carried into the mountains and safely released again. I also quite liked some of the characterisation, e.g. Becky's insecurities about not having a place in Flonyard while Eclair gets character development. She's the focus of ep.9 and gets over being a tsundere. This remains an unambitious, silly show that's not worth recommending, but it's a pleasant, undemanding way to spend a few hours.