YES, finally after 5 years, we're seeing the light of Date A Live once again...thank you Tachibana-sensei (the author of the series)!
NO, to production woes, the J.C.Staff that could do no wrong, proceeded to trash this series! Where are you ENGI???
I'll admit, being a long-time DAL fan ever since its inception in 2013 has its benefits and drawbacks. For one, we get a fairly generic harem story and action that was somewhat interesting and intriguing for its time, its lineup of character Spirits and the MC harem "Master" that is Shido Itsuki, that left us wanting for more of them ever since Season 2's end in 2014. But finally, and with a very long wait, the original LN writer Koushi Tachibana has green-lit Season 3 for long-time fans like us to once again, MILK on the success that is the past 2 seasons. AND...you all saw how that fared out in 3 months. And that's a massive disappointment.
*Spoilers be warned*
Let's start with the story, which continues the events from past DAL series into Volumes 8 to 12 of the Light Novel: The 7th and 8th Spirits Natsumi and the resurrected Tobiichi Origami in her Spirit form, along with the (rushed and story-squished) Itsuka Disaster arc. For the majority of the series, we go through the life and happenings of the transformation queen that is Natsumi, being able to shapeshift into people with almost perfect results. And this time, Shido is left with a very daunting task of finding out Natsumi's real intentions while covering her true chibi-kid form (which makes her embarrassed and is a real pain-in-the-butt), at the expense of using Tohka and Co. and exterminating them should Shido fail to solve her puzzle. Everything totally felt like how the main series was intended to be, and that's always very welcome.
Next, new revelations about the friend-cum-enemy Tobiichi Origami, whom for the longest time that we've been searching her long-awaited answers since the start of Season 1: The reasoning behind her hatred for Spirits. And this arc being animated is a true taste of the "how many questions" we all have at the end of both seasons, finally giving us the action-solutions and resolution to Origami's antagonistic purposes, with her history being rewritten at long last, for the better. Last but not least, the Itsuka Disaster arc, where in true DAL fashion, Shido does not become the initiator, but becomes the instigated for the girls to date him! Of course, trouble ensues but as always the girls will do anything to save his life *kisses*.
Once again, open hearts, open minds: The story is a love/hate relationship with those of us who grew up with this series, so whether you love or hate it, I respect all opinions.
The characters, or should I mention, the NEW ones brought forth to this season: Natsumi, Origami's new Spirit form and of course the mysterious Spirit that is Phantom. Natsumi, aside from her Halloween costume, she is a force to be reckoned with, with her shapeshifting disguises into people similar being the standout that really causes a whole lot of issues. Once she is brought down to her tsundere loli form, she is pretty much like Yoshino in terms of care and sensitivity. With Origami's position this time, she is finally vindicated of her past that has her holding back for very long, siding with DEM Industries all the while until this issue is resolved. Good for you Origami! And Phantom's presence which we didn't see a lot of, that is sadly left for another time to pursue more information about her (in the future...?). Of course, Tohka and Co. still acts like their usual selves.
The elephant in the room, you've guessed it, is the art and animation, which by all accounts, factoring in both Season 1 and 2, is the worst looking of them all. With the relevant production studio changes (AIC Plus+ for Season 1, the recently-bankrupt Production IMS for Season 2), it's no surprise that this is an (industry-wide) issue, but honestly I didn't find the average art-animation combi to be off-putting, at least not by a mile. With J.C.Staff however, even before the anime aired, the PV and posters were the red flags that long-time fans were trashing it, saying: "This isn't the DAL that I remember!" And...it doesn;t get any better than this. Character models have that superifical J.C.Staff generic model, instead of the ever-so-memorable DAL aesthetics. Art and animation is decent, but action scenes were rife with mediocrity all around, with many people were complaining that this series took a turn for the worse with overall animation, and my opinions are no different. Sure, ENGI came back to help out with the production woes that J.C.Staff faced (that's evident on the episodes he worked on if you checked the ED credits), but overall, it definitely left a very sour taste in my mouth.
Music-wise, I'm very glad and happy that the all-female group "sweet ARMS" is back once again to deliver another stellar song, titled "I Swear" (by the moon and the stars and the sky...oops sorry, wrong song!). Probably out of the 3 OP songs in the series, this may just be my favourite "sweet ARMS" song yet, with Season 1's "Date A Live" in 2nd place. Such a heartwarming and cute, small action-pumping song. New and upcoming female artist Eri Yamazaki shows her new song for the ED, and it's also quite good (as expected from Shichisei no Subaru's ED song). OST wise, it's largely the same assortment of tracks from previous series to stoke nostalgia, and it works for the better.
Production woes aside, as predictable and obvious as much as past seasons are, this is still a somewhat worthy (but worse) sequel entry to the series, with the story still holding up just as decent with many hiccups in the storytelling. But, apologies to long-time DAL fans both old and new, this isn't recommended unless it's for the story alone. Pass this up.
Now if only there was ever a chance of a Season 4 (which is highly unlikely), we the audience highly implore the future production staff: "Please get the series QC-checked first before showing it to us!"