That's a definite endorsement from me. It's both surprising and good, with some strong story arcs. The harem bollocks isn't nearly as intrusive as I'd feared.
PREMISE: Bell Cranel is an adventurer and would-be hero in a Dungeons and Dragons universe. His daily job is to go down dungeons, find treasure and kill monsters. He also has a goddess, Hestia, because in DanMachi the gods live among mortals and sponsor "familias" of adventurers.
...but, having said that, we hardly see Bell spend any time in dungeons this year. Season 1 was fun, but based around the dungeon-bashing formula of fighting monsters and getting stronger. This year, the real threats are gods. They have familias and sometimes horrifying personalities. They can send any number of adventurers after Bell, often famous ones who are far stronger than him.
I'll break it up into story arcs.
It's just a recap of Season 1 (without the 2016 OVA or 2019 movie). It's quite fun, though, thanks to the narration from Hestia and Bell.
EPISODES 1-4 (APOLLO ARC, BASED ON LIGHT NOVEL #6)
Apollo is a creepy bully. Apollo is notorious for going to any lengths to get his hands on any mortal who takes his fancy. Apollo's decided that he wants Bell and he quite enjoys destroying entire familias in a War Game. He's not bothered in the slightest by the unfairness of the fight he's starting here, since he has over a hundred people in his familia, while Hestia only has Bell.
The original Greek god was known for having both female and male lovers, so that fits.
Focus regular: Lily, who's having her own problems with the Soma familia. They're addicts, led by a reptile who thinks Soma's great because he doesn't care what crimes his worshippers commit.
This is an exciting story arc with a cool finale. I love Ryuu, although the reason why is buried away in Season 1 ep.12. I watched this series as part of a DanMachi marathon, which is probably the best way to experience it. It's very marathonable.
EPISODES 5-10 (ISHTAR ARC, BASED ON LIGHT NOVEL #7)
It starts out light and silly, but its dark themes are there from the beginning. Harem nonsense? Lilly vetting prospective familia members for too much sex appeal? Bell's slightly eye-rolling exploits in Oratorio's pleasure district? (It's mandatory in light novel adaptations for girls to be attracted to the zero-personality hero, so here a horrified Bell has a similar but bawdier effect on prostitutes. He does lots of screaming and running away.)
The arc soon gets heavier. Ishtar's familia are all prostitutes, sometimes unwillingly. Slavers sold Mikoto's childhood friend, Haruhime, into the Ishtar familia. Also, gods can crush another god's familia and steal its worshippers, with the mortals having no say in the matter. (Apollo showed us that.) Ishtar already has a reputation for destroying familias and even cowing the Adventurers' Guild.
DanMachi gods are frightening. Sometimes they're also loons, perverts and idiots, yes, but ep.10 demonstrates that Hestia should be very, very scared.
There's a lot here about the worth of prostitutes and their work. Ishtar sees it as holy and takes pride in it, even though her motives twist the themes and her goddess powers include raping men into submission. Haruhime has a shocking opinion of herself. Bell could be read as having a near-phobia of sex (which he'd probably say was being chivalrous), but can say sensible things about to people who need help. There's also, though, a secondary theme of heroes. Both Bell and Haruhime have a mental image of heroes that has almost as much baggage as prostitution (and reflects on it).
Focus regular: Mikoto the ninja (and Haruhime).
Despite how it starts, this is DanMachi's heaviest story arc so far. I'm not wild about Phryne Jamil's character design, which turns an out-of-control sadist into a cartoon. It's still impressive, though.
EPISODES 11-12 (RAKIA ARC, BASED ON A SHORT STORY FROM VOLUME #8)
The muscle-brained god Ares is fighting a war against Oratorio, but his army's so outclassed that Oratorio's adventurers are treating the invaders as a business opportunity. Yeah, it's a comedy. Chikahiro Kobayashi's performance as Ares makes that clear. There's also harem silliness again.
Ultimately, though, there's more serious emotional content and an examination of what it means for gods and humans to love each other. Bell's excessive respect gets dissected. It's nice.
2020 OVA EPISODE
The gang (plus Ryuu) takes an island holiday and the girls hold a swimsuit contest. I was expecting yet more garbage like the 2016 OVA... but then the episode became genuinely funny. There's a surprise plot. Aiz's amnesiac voice can sod off and die, but it's supposed to be annoying. Bell's girlie freak-out is funny and the nearest he's ever come to being a character rather than a cardboard cutout. Ultimately, the episode's sort of amazing in its quantity of story and ideas. I'm mildly gobsmacked.
I already liked DanMachi, but this was much better than I'd expected. I'd been bracing myself for the show to go downhill, as often happens with harem-ish shows as they drag on and add more and more girls. This season, though, is stronger and more varied than its predecessor. I'm genuinely curious about where they go in Season 3.