The Solo Leveling Review – Flawed Greatness

Key points for The Solo Leveling Review:

  • I found myself grappling with Solo Leveling’s pacing, especially during episodes 3-4 and a sudden shift around episode 6. I argue for a more gradual character development for Jinwoo, the protagonist, to enhance the viewer’s connection.
  • I was impressed by Solo Leveling’s unique world-building and consistency. The anime delves into the economic impact of dungeons and the corporate aspects of dungeon exploration, providing depth to the story beyond typical action sequences.
  • Solo Leveling earns high praise for its breathtaking fight animations, appealing character designs, and the impactful soundtrack by Hiroyuki Sawano. Despite pacing concerns, the visual and auditory elements significantly contribute to the overall enjoyment of the series.

I genuinely struggled to settle on a “tone” for this review. On the one hand, I have been enjoying the recent Solo Leveling episodes. But on the other hand, episodes 3-4 were almost a waste of time. Again, on one hand, it is a near-perfect adaptation of the original manhwa but on the other hand, that means it also brings the flaws of the manhwa with it. So how do I review Solo Leveling? How do I talk about it knowing that it is one of the most hyped animes of the year?

How do I convey that I still enjoyed this anime and am hyped for the upcoming episodes while critiquing it? Well, strap in, welcome to my Solo Leveling review, and let’s find out together how successful I am at conveying these conflicting feelings. Let’s get started right away.

Plot

Let’s start with the negatives. And the one huge issue I have with this anime is its pacing. There’s like a stretch of 2-3 episodes during Jinwoo’s rehab in which pretty much nothing significant happens and one of them is a flashback. Flashback episodes are not inherently bad but a flashback must serve to move the plot forward in some way or provide us some vital information we will need in the near future. Which this one didn’t. And then suddenly around episode 6, the pacing picks back up again, and then finally things start to click.

But there are also some things that only Solo Leveling does. I know that the series is famous for its badass action sequences. But what caught my attention the most in the plot was the world-building and consistency. The show regularly shows us how much the economy is dependent on the dungeons and how exploring dungeons has slowly become corporatized with big companies wanting to have their own guilds. The anime also goes out of its way to show the effects of the incidents in the first episode on different characters, which is also quite nice.

Characters

Another bizarre issue stems from the pacing, in my opinion, Jinwoo’s change should have been more gradual. At the start of the series, he is doing his best to make a living and has a sympathetic cause which makes us relate to him. And then in almost no time, he is a badass which makes us lose the connection. I do like that they don’t portray him as invincible, he still struggles and he still tries his best to make the best decisions. The moment he realizes he needs to level up more to cure his mother, he changes his mind and accepts Yoo’s offer.

The side characters are serviceable. None of them go under a significant arc on their own aside from Lee but they are good enough. JIngwoo’s sister has also really grown on me, despite being in her “rebellious phase” she still cares about her brother.

Animations and Soundtracks

The fights in this anime are a sight to behold. Not only the animations, but the strong soundtrack from the GOAT, Hiroyuki Sawano also carries its weight as well. The character designs and the art style in general are also pretty strong. Nothing to complain about here.

Summing Up

Here are my final review scores for Solo Leveling:

  • Plot – 8/10
  • Characters – 8/10
  • Animations – 9/10
  • Soundtracks – 9/10
  • Could have been SO much better – 10/10
  • Enjoyment – 8/10
  • Overall – 8/10

Those were my thoughts and opinions on Solo Leveling. Let me know what you guys think in the comments. I will take my leave here. See ya!

Also, check out my top 5 anime of this season here!

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