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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at IUP chapter.

Time travel might honestly be one of my least favorite tropes, ever.

But, even I’ll admit this: When it’s done right, it’s done RIGHT.

In other words, I recently watched the first season of Link Click. A show with a novel concept that breathes new life into time travel, both as a writing trope and a genre.

Diving Back in Time

This donghua has a unique time travel system, which utilizes photographs. Using a photography studio as a cover, the two main protagonists act as unofficial “time detectives.” (They don’t have an official title, but that’s what I’d call them.)

Lu Guang can look into a photo and view the events that occurred at least twelve hours after the photo had been taken. Meanwhile, Cheng Xiaoshi can “dive” into the photograph and possess the body of the photographer, and interact with said events. Their job is to investigate information that they’ve been tasked to find by a client, without raising suspicion or changing anything within the timeline. 

But it’s not as simple as that

The main conflict of Link Click‘s first season comes from the moral dilemma between the two leads. Because of the nature of their abilities, Lu Guang and Cheng Xiaoshi are given very different perspectives of the same scenario.

Lu Guang is an outsider looking in, and can objectively look at a situation and help guide his partner through it. But it’s a very different story for Cheng Xiaoshi; a much more complicated one. When he possesses someone in a photograph, he’s not simply taking over their body; he’s also taking in their memories and emotions. This can sometimes lead him to making impulsive decisions in an attempt to help the person and maybe make their life just a little better. But you know the rule of time travel and the butterfly effect: every action has its consequences. Something that Lu Guang CONSTANTLY has to remind Cheng Xiaoshi of.

This central conflict is, in my opinion, the emotional core of this show. It makes the friendship between Lu Guang and Cheng Xiaoshi feel more real and genuine, allowing us as the audience to actually care about them and the people that they help. I also really like that, despite their frequent bickering and their differences in opinion when it comes to how they should go about different scenarios, it’s still obvious that they’re really good friends who care about each other.

In time travel stories that I’ve seen before, it’s not uncommon to have the logical character turn out to be the antagonist, with the empath acting as the protagonist. But Link Click does a fantastic job at showcasing the points that each side brings up. (I’d give an example, but that’d be spoilers)

A bit of personal bias showing here

The English dub of Link Click is phenomenal. The cast consists of some extremely talented voice actors: Alejandro Saab, Zeno Robinson, Suzie Yeung, Christopher Sabat, Xanthe Hunyth, Caitlin Glass, and many others. They are all perfectly cast and well-suited for their characters, as they make each character feel relatable and real. And if someone’s vocal performance can make me cry in the middle of the Folger’s Student Center at 9pm on a Wednesday? They’re clearly doing something right.

My Conclusion?

Go watch Link Click

No, really.

This isn’t my typical recommendation, where I say “Oh, this story is cool. Maybe you’ll like it?” No, this is me saying that you HAVE to watch this show.

Portia Coulter is a writer at Indiana University of Pennsylvania's HER Campus chapter. She covers topics in the entertainment industry, ranging from video games to animation. Portia is also an editor for Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s New Growth Art Review, having joined earlier this year. Some of her work has previously been published in the 2023 edition of the New Growth Art Review; they were also submitted to that year’s horror competition: a short story that won 2nd place and an art piece that won 3rd. Currently an English Literature/Culture major with a minor in Communications Media, Portia plans to graduate in May 2024 and pursue her dream of writing an original graphic novel series. In her free time, Portia likes to play video games (she has a crippling Genshin Impact addiction), watch cartoons, sing and dance, and is currently learning how to knit and crochet. She likes to create a plethora of different fan works for her favorite series, from art to short fiction. It also serves as a good way to hone her craft as an artist. An introvert at heart, Portia likes to hide in her room, curled up under a mountain of blankets, and watch the newest romance anime while she attempts to knit a scarf.