- Titles: Shiguang Dailiren,
- Genre: Drama, crime, action, mystery, thriller, supernatural
- Episodes: 11 + special
- Studio: Studio LAN
Photographs all have a little bit of magic in them, don’t they? They can freeze time in one specific place and preserve it forever. Well for a while a least. And these days, photos are everywhere. The world is a tapestry of selfies and Instagram pics. But what if someone could expand on that moment. What if they could look at a picture and see just a bit more. What goes beyond the edges, what happened the moment before or the moment after. What if someone could actually enter those pictures themselves and live in that picture for some time. What would they discover? Cheng Xiaoshi and Lu Guang are two men that can do just that. And in this economy, you got to put every skill you have at work. So they are helping people solve problems and mysteries of their past. Their customers are amazed at what they can do. How can they learn so much from a simple picture?
I don’t know why I thought Link Click was something completely different. A school-based slice of life about the photography club to be more precise. I still have no clue why I decided that. Let’s just say I was pretty surprised after that first episode. Pleasantly so!
I have to admit, I haven’t watched that many donghua. I am by no means an expert on the matter. The ones I have seen do seem to share some similarities. The character designs have a certain angular quality. Backgrounds are often painted. I’ve noticed soft colour blends, especially around the eyes. Also, the images are super sharp. Not sure if they use different film techniques but they just seem more…digital?
I also noticed that Link Click occasionally gets a bit jagged during animated sequences. They do this incredibly smart thing towards the end of the series where one of the most high action scenes is conceived in a way where it makes sense to use stunted animation and stills. I really liked that.
How can I put this? I have a feeling that the studio may not have had the resources to produce a superfluid animation but it did have the knowledge to make it not matter. And that’s just as impressive to me!
I am not familiar enough with Mandarin (I’m assuming it was in Mandarin because that’s the most common) to judge the voice acting in any way. I liked it. It sounded good to me but I’m not sure I could tell a great performance apart.
Story & Characters
Because Link Click took me by surprise, I read up a bit on it. I also looked through what other viewers thought on MAL and AniList. I was happy to see that most people seemed to have enjoyed the show like I did. But I did see a few who did not and a lot of the negative reviews had one thing in common. Basically, Steins:Gate did it first and/or better.
Now I’m a pretty huge fan of Steins;Gate as far as they go. It’s probably my favourite visual novel. Somewhere on this blog, there is a post of me fumbling my way through a DIY phone microwave (name subject to change) post. However, even I have to say that Steins;Gate did not come up with the concept of time travel fiction. Moreover, comparing it to Link Click seems very unproductive.
I’m not sure why I’m spending so much time on this point. I guess it’s because it jumped out at me and it’s been rattling around my head. I need to get it out. Basically, Steins;Gate is a science fiction story, occasionally dipping into speculative fiction with a romantic subplot, some nice action scenes and a loose reinterpretation of classic harem tropes and structures. Link Click is primarily an action thriller with some mystery and supernatural elements with a classic odd-couple dynamic. Sure, both shows have time travel in them but I really don’t think they’re that comparable. I honestly don’t even think Link Click was inspired by Steins;Gate and certainly doesn’t want to be the same thing. `Cause Link Click is Quantum Leap…
Does anyone remember Quantum Leap? I don’t know how or when I watched that show but I loved it. My love for time travel fiction goes way back!
Most of the first season of Link Click presents itself as more or less standalone episodes. Every one or two episodes the characters are presented with a new client that has a problem for them to solve. Some are light mundane little issues while others are life and death situations. Some have happy endings, others do not and some just go horribly wrong. And then, a lot of threads start to knot together in the final episodes as a more overarching plot takes shape.
For the most part, we follow the characters as they try to discover who committed a crime or the secret of some organization. Like a detective show but with time travel powers. Oh and I should explain how those powers work. Lu Guang can look at a photograph and see everything that happened around the area and to the people in the picture for a short while into the future of that picture. Whereas Cheng Xiaoshi can actually enter the picture by taking over the body of whoever took it. But he can only stay for 24 hours. Together, they coordinate to find clues without changing anything that has already happened.
There is a pretty big ongoing theme of fatalism. You can’t change the past. No matter what, big events are locked in and they will always happen in some way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change the future. It’s pretty standard time travel fiction tropes but they work well in the mystery thriller setting.
I personally liked how Link Click mixes the bitter with the sweet. It might be a bit more on the bitter side but it’s not one of those endlessly gloomy series either.
This brings me to the last few episodes. There is a big tonal shift towards the end. At that point, the story starts to focus on a series of murders and becomes decidedly more suspenseful. I should warn you right now that the first season of Link Click ends on a cliffhanger. A big one at that. I’m not throwing a fit only because a second season has already been announced. But still… it was never on Crunchyroll so I better have a way of watching it!
Because I’m hooked. I want to know what happens next. The pacing of Link Click is really great. The mix of down-to-earth procedural fiction with completely unexplained supernatural elements adds a lot of interest. And it’s a genre I rarely watch so it feels very fresh to me. And it might be interesting to you as well.
Oh also great OP. Real fun!
You might like this anime if:
You like mystery fiction. You remember Quantum Leap and always thought you wanted a more suspenseful animated version!
My favourite character:
huh… ok, so this is weird. I do like the characters but Link Click is definitely more plot-driven and I’m not sure I have a favourite. Let’s go with Lu Guang. He’s the calm straight man. I like those types.
- Every time we hear the 3 rules – take notes
- Every time there’s a close-up on anyone’s eyes – take a sip
- Every time Cheng Xiaoshi gets warned not to change anything – sigh cause you know he won’t listen
- Every time there’s a high five – take a sip
- Every time Cheng Xiaoshi is a bad actor – take a sip
- Every time Cheng Xiaoshi eats, in anybody – get some snacks
- Every time they make it worse – oh no!
- Every time we see the main characters as kids – take a sip
- Every time we see any scene for the second time – pay extra close attention
- Every time Cheng Xiaoshi and Lu Guang bicker– take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.