Link Click is an anime you surely would have heard getting titled “Anime of the Year” by many anime critiques or seen overtaking some of your favorite anime on myanimelist with a score of 8.88. But is this Chinese animation series really as good as they say? The answer to that is – Yes! From the outside, the show looks like another typical rom-com anime or a BL, but if you think that’s the truth, you’re wrong. Link Click’s not a regular lighthearted drama anime, it’s dark, thrilling, and things will go from 0 to 100 real quick. Take this review as a guide to see whether Link Click’s your cup of tea or not.
Link Click or Shiguang Dailiren is an original Chinese anime or a “donghua” directed by Li Haoling and animated by the Haoliners Animation League. This short 1-cour 12 episode show started airing from 30 April to 9 July on Funimation this year. Looking at how season 1 ended, it’s sure we’ll get a season 2, possibly by 2022 or 2023. China in the past had made some excellent and popular anime series like Mo Dao Zu Shi(aka Demonic Path Ancestral Master) and Scissor Seven. Still, Link Click set forth China’s potential in the animation scene. With Link Click being a hit, it opens more opportunities for Chinese production companies and animation houses to produce more good content in the future.
The plot of Link Click revolves around this fascinating concept of time travel where one of the main characters, Cheng Xiaoshi, could enter a photo as the person who took that photo. While Cheng enters a picture, Lu Guang, the second main character, guides him to see the past events of the person who clicked the photo. And there’s one more important thing about the show’s plot when Cheng enters a photograph as the person who took it, he not only takes over them but inherits their feelings too. On paper, this might not look very interesting but believe me; this little thing has a vast effect on the plot. Though they can enter the past through a photograph, there are some rules tied with entering a photo. They go as follows in the show: “Firstly, you only get 12 hours. Secondly, follow my lead and change nothing. Thirdly, past or future, let them be.” While the 12-hour window is the natural rule or limit, both the main characters made up the other rules to prevent any instability in the timelines. Throughout the story, Cheng and Lu go through different scenarios like trying to gather information or, like in most episodes, to untie a little knot in time of the people who approach them. Link Click can be characterized in 4 words: Tragedy, Fate, Consequences, and Butterfly Effect. You get absorbed by the show because of the epic narration. The narration made every boring thing interesting. You’ll find Link Click a little humorous initially, but don’t take it as one lighthearted show. It plays a lot with the viewer’s feelings and gets too real with emotions. Every episode has that heartwarming great ending or notorious cliffhangers that will keep you absorbed. The world-building is perfect; although the main characters were not too relatable, I could see their world from not only mine but from the character’s point of view.
Visually, Link Click is stunning. The art style, the character design, and the details stand out the most in the first impression of the show. The fineness in design like small reflections, details, etc reflects the high-end efforts put by the animation artists of Haoling Animation League in the making of the show. The character design was a little alien to me because it was my first donghua, but I got used to it in no time and loved it in the end. The character design’s very different from typical anime too, it’s somewhat like manhwas with many edges and slightly irregular bold outlines. The show uses primarily bright colors—everything’s clean, unique and gorgeous. While I loved the art style of the show, there’s something that doesn’t quite stand out, and it’s the main animation, like the main stuff. The animation is not very smooth, and you can notice many quality drops from time to time. But it’s not that big of a problem because neither it makes it unwatchable, nor do you need perfect animation to enjoy the story.
The soundtrack indeed plays a salient role and allows a lot of feelings to just a simple scene. All the OSTs are impressive; they give the chill lofi vibes. Some OSTs might feel repetitive in the end episodes because you’ll be hearing it multiple times, but it’s OK. Coming onto the OP and ED, I fricking love both of them. The OP Dive Back in Time by 白鲨JAWS is incredible with that OP animation sequence, and the rap ED OVERTHING is dope and very chilling. The voiceover seemed a little off with Lu Guang to me, but I have no prior experience with Chinese anime to judge it.
Overall, Link Click is a solid hit and unveils that Japanese anime are not the only good 2d animation series out there. From story to sound, everything went real smooth and satisfying. Link Click is standing with other hits like Tokyo Revengers, Odd Taxi, Vivy, and others, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets the “Anime of the Year” title. I loved it, and it’s certainly a 9/10 for me.