As a note: this is the only show of the ones mentioned that I watched the sub of. For everything else, I watched the dub.
This was a show that a while before I wanted to get back into watching anime, I saw things for and was curious. I saw a preview clip before the show aired of the opening scene where Kobayashi comes out of her apartment to a giant dragon outside her door, who transforms into a maid. The odd premise alone was enough to stay in the back of my mind for the longest time. I don’t recall exactly what caused me to look up the show again, but when I started watching, the art style and immediately likable characters made me want to keep watching. Tohru is adorable and energetic, which is perfectly offset by Kobayashi’s almost deadpan responses to everything.
The show walks a lot of fine lines in different areas. Tohru doesn’t understand many things about the human world, but doesn’t go overboard in the “fish out of water” scenarios. Kobayashi often gets annoying with some of Tohru’s antics, but doesn’t devolve to abuse or hatred toward Tohru. Tohru, Elma, and Lucoa are sexualized only in that they have large breasts, and never really go beyond that, other than a couple of jokes with Lucoa (as that’s kinda her running gag).
The side characters show up gradually over the course of the series, allowing for each character to have a dedicated amount of time to introduce them. Elma would be the worst in this, considering she shows up at episode 8 out of 13, but that still allows her to have an episode and be included in some of the ensemble episodes later.
The show is episodic, however, there are overarching stories about the dragons coming to the human world and the changes Kobayashi and Tohru go through over time being with each other. The finale has a very different feel from the other episodes, but is able to drive home the changes that the characters have gone through over the course of the series.
I’ve read (and now own) all of the manga that is available in English, and there is definitely room for continuation for this series to another season.