What is this? I’ve liked many things throughout the years. While some have fallen out of my attention, others remain firmly cemented in my memories and feelings. So, I’ve decided to start a mini-series where each week (hopefully), I pick something random that I like or have liked and discuss it, why I like it, and its impact on me. These things can be varied, and range from more trivial matters such as my favourite animal, to books, games, and movies I’ve liked, to topics that have shaped who I am as a person. The posts, accordingly, will vary in length. See my rating system here.
The final episode of the first season Link Click (時光代理人) just aired yesterday, and wow, what an ending.
Link Click is a 12-episode ONA (direct-to-internet airing anime) out of China. Its visual design is directed by Korean artist INPLICK and the OST is done by renowned Japanese anime composer Tenmon.
The premise is that there are two protagonists, Cheng Xiaoshi and Lu Guang. The former has the ability to travel back in time using a photograph, possessing the person who took the photograph. The latter has the ability to, upon looking at a photograph, see what happened to the person who took the photo within the next 12 hours. Thus, they form a working pair, taking odd commissions to dive back in time to e.g. conduct corporate espionage on a competing company. When Cheng Xiaoshi dives, he can choose to hi-five Lu Guang, forming a telepathic connection to him. Lu Guang remains in the present and guides Cheng Xiaoshi through the past using his own special ability.
The series is at its core a mystery and thriller series. People have apparently dismissed it solely based on preconceived notions from the promotional artwork, but I can assure you that there’s pretty much no romance or other fluff between the two protagonists.
Why do I like it so much?
For a mystery/thriller, this series is surprisingly emotional. When Cheng Xiaoshi possesses the photographer of the past, he inherits a portion of their emotions. All of the jobs the duo take involve the lives of daily people, whose struggles, hopes, and dreams are presented masterfully. Episode 5, in particular, was a tidal wave of emotion, but it never once felt forced or awkward.
The music is a key contributor to the impact this series achieves in both its emotional and thriller aspects, Tenmon did a phenomenal job here.
The art style is clean and smooth, and the animation brings every character to life in a very focused manner – you’ll often notice blurred backgrounds while characters are outlined prominently. The animation work in the opening alone is nearly a minute of animated characters performing complex hand-dance techniques (“tutting”). Hands are notoriously hard to animate well. That the opening has so much of it in such high quality is essentially the animation studio flexing their skills.
Besides the emotional moments, the core of the story is good solid mystery writing. Mechanics of the world are slowly revealed throughout the series, giving viewers a chance to theorize in between each episode about what might happen next. Said mechanics are not too complicated, which I appreciate. Overly complicated time-travel plots hurt my head.
Pacing of each episode is masterful. The transition to the ending theme is deftly woven into the inevitable “OMG NO!” plot twist that occurs at the end of every episode, leaving you listen to the ED with your mind still reeling from the events of the episode.
Pretty much every single episode ends this way, by the way. It’s really exciting and I’m glad I at least got to catch the final episode as it aired live (I only found this series once ten episodes already aired).
TIL Score: 3. This is honestly one of the best thriller series I have ever watched. It’s up there with the thriller “classics” like Death Note, in my opinion, and I highly recommend any anime fan at least give the first episode a chance. You can find it on Funimation (link at the top of the page)