It's okay, but I enjoyed it a little less than earlier seasons. Dog Days used to be pointless but likeable and nice. Unfortunately they've upped the fanservice and are seemingly trying to distance themselves from their own premise, so now I find it a little less engaging, but still pointless.
PREMISE: fourteen-year-olds from Earth travel to the fantasy land of Flonyard, which is inhabited by cat girls, dog girls, squirrel girls, etc. It's a land of constant war, but that's okay because "war" on Flonyard is a fun, healthy activity that's been made completely safe by magic and is more like a family day out. Our heroes are Shinku, Nanami and Becky and they're all thoroughly nice. There's some potential romance, but none of it is going anywhere because almost everyone's fourteen. There's also fanservice, e.g. clothes-dissolving demon attacks.
WHAT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING THIS YEAR: no recreational wars at all and less involvement than you'd expect for the main characters. Shinku and Nanami are the main characters of eps.1-3, but after that they're mostly just part of the crowd. Even our heroes' relationships don't get much focus, whereas other supporting characters very much do. What about Couvert-Becky, eh? Where are they?
I'd liked this show's cast! They were the only reason I was watching. The show's storylines have traditionally been at best perfunctory, as you'd expect from a show written by Masaki Tsuzuki, while the action is meaningless. Everyone's everyone else's best friend and no one gets hurt. This year we have less focus on the cast and more effort on the storylines, but unfortunately not enough to make the latter meaningful. I'm not convinced I'd watch a fourth season.
Then there's the fanservice. Seasons 1 and 2 were pretty shameless with all that family-friendly nudity, but there was still something innocent about it. This year feels less innocent. Camera angles that look up girls' skirts is a regrettable first. Boobs are capable of bouncing with "boing" sound effects. Mega-boob girl (Leonmitchelli Galette des Rois) gets lots of lovingly rendered nakedness, even though with her at least the show had previously shown restraint. It's too much. It's becoming the point of the exercise. Entire episodes are built around it. Admittedly the season ends with a nudity-free run, but this seems so out-of-character given the sleaze beforehand that I'm now wondering why. My theory is that Masaki Tsuzuki had been expecting the mermaids in eps.10-12 to be topless.
I also disliked specific episodes. Ep.3's storyline is fairly shapeless. Ep.4 annoyed me a bit with its sleaze, its meaningless magicbabble resolution and the return of Tsuzuki's gun fetish. (Not only does Adelaide Grand Marnier adore guns, but she seems to regard firing one at her husband at point-blank range as a legitimate response to irritation. The episode sees this as light comedy.) Ep.6 has Princess Leonmitchelli offering herself up as the prize in a fight to win her hand in marriage. "I will win you over with my sword!" It's full rabid Lyrical Nanoha in its view of fighting as a positive, happy, friendly activity that can even be an expression of romance. This is the only Dog Days episode that's ever done a ViVio and made me wonder if these people were mentally ill. Ep.7 is then the sequel. "Let me fight you! Let me fight you!"
In fairness, this year's stories are trying to be different. Eps.1-3 visit a dangerous jungle area we've never seen before as Shinku and Nanami's arrival goes wrong. Our heroes fight a small demon war that for once is real, not recreational. Eps.4-5 are similarly dangerous. (Not very, but a bit.) Ep.6-7 are about Princess Leonmitchelli's idea of going out on the pull. Ep.8 is a historical adventure, starring long-dead heroes with pseudo-economics (which is bollocks, but earns points for effort), strong lesbian romance and surprising emotional force. That was actually good. I liked that. Then, after that, there's even more fantasy worldbuilding with a sky-sea above the floating islands, a sky-whale and a cleavage-goddess the size of St Paul's Cathedral.
There are budding romances. They're for the supporting cast rather than the main heroes, but they're there. However one of them involves a boy of about ten and so is being put firmly on hold as a "come back one day", while the other involves someone I've never really cared about.
This show isn't based on anything. It's an anime original. Kadokawa Shoten tried to turn it into manga and light novels in 2011, but the former only lasted one volume and the latter lasted four chapters. I'm not surprised. That said, though, the show's still okay. It's not really that different from what went before. It's watchable. Everyone's still lovely and it's all still all friends together in a show that even at its best has only ever managed to be forgettable, but relaxing and pleasant. It's still forgettable. It's even still relaxing and pleasant to a reasonable degree. I just found myself struggling with it a little more than in previous years.
I can see that the show's trying to shake things up and tell slightly weightier stories. The fights all mean something, which is unprecedented. There's something at stake, even if it's just Princess Leonmitchelli's marital prospects. Furthermore, more than half of these episodes are taking us to parts of Flonyard that we'd never dreamed existed. Those are virtues, but that's not the same as being good.