WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Link Click Episode 3, “To Lose, Not to Win,” now streaming on Funimation.
There’s a saying in Chinese todo with good intentions often having negative outcomes. This is shown in the Link Click premiere where Cheng Xiaoshi, one of the anime’s two protagonists, wants to reunite a family after seeing how much the daughter missed her parents — only to inadvertently have a hand in her death. Lu Guang did not tell him, most likely wanting to spare his friend the guilt.
But was that the right choice? Cheng Xiaoshi is unaware of the consequences his choices in the past can have. If Lu Guang had directly told Cheng Xiaoshi the impact of trying to change past events, would it have changed Cheng Xiaoshi’s decisions in Episode 3?
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The duo’s latest client, Chen Xiao, wants to go back in time to his high school days to finally say the words he regretted not saying at the time. The photo in question is his school’s last basketball game, where he was a bench player. His team lost the competition that day, while he personally lost his first love and had a fight with his mom.
Surprisingly, it’s Cheng Xiaoshi and not Lu Guang who expresses a bit of concern over this particular request: won’t this change the past? Lu Guang reassures him it won’t and the two high five. Cheng Xiaoshi gets sent back to a dingy gym where his team is facing off against a rival from Long Yang.
Cheng Xiaoshi/Chen Xiao’s job is to stay put until the team loses — then he can say a few words to the team captain, Hong Bin, thus fulfilling Chen Xiao’s wish. Unfortunately, Cheng Xiaoshi is put into the game when the flash on his camera accidentally opens an opportunity for Long Yang’s team captain to commit a foul, and a resulting injury forces a bench player to enter the game.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), Cheng Xiaoshi is great at basketball and in a few short minutes, the whole game starts to turn. They’re getting closer and closer to Long Yang’s score. However, Lu Guang warned him that his objective is to lose. Cheng Xiaoshi tries to intentionally sabotage the game but it has the opposite effect — they manage to rack up a few more points.
Cheng Xiaoshi soon finds out from the team’s coach that the stakes are especially high for this game. If the team wins, they can keep the basketball hall. If they lose, the school will tear it down to make room for something else. This lights a fire in Cheng Xiaoshi and he asks the coach to put him back on the court.
In some Kuroko no Basket-esque scenes, Cheng Xiaoshi helps tie the game but Long Yang manages to score another two points. In the final 30 seconds, one of Cheng Xiaoshi’s teammates launches the ball across the court and he makes the jump — only to find his path completely blocked. At the very last second, he passes the ball to his teammate and they win the game.
For Cheng Xiaoshi, basketball represents trust. When you pass the ball to a teammate, you’re placing your faith in them that they’ll score the basket. Cheng Xiaoshi and Lu Guang also first met at a basketball court, marking the beginning of their friendship. Their time-traveling partnership has to be based on trust because they can’t go together — Lu Guang has to trust that Cheng Xiaoshi will meet the client’s requests, and Cheng Xiaoshi has to believe in his friend’s ability to not steer him astray.
The irony is that here, on the very same basketball court where they first met, is where Cheng Xiaoshi blatantly ignores Lu Guang’s orders and does things of his own accord. The same high five that represents the Link Click duo’s time travel is mirrored here when Cheng Xiaoshi and the team captain high five to switch spots, showing a shift from Cheng Xiaoshi’s trust in Lu Guang to his teammates.
With the game now won, Cheng Xiaoshi has changed Chen Xiao’s past. Chen Xiao had said that he wanted to go back to the past to express his regret. Assuming those feelings are linked to the team losing the game, does that mean Cheng Xiaoshi has, in effect, fulfilled his mission? And most importantly, now that the past is different, how will that change the future?
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