Solo Leveling Episode 1 Review

Solo Leveling Episode 1 Review

Gates, Magic, and Monsters

It’s no stretch to say that Solo Leveling is the hot anime of the winter 2024 season. Sure, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is still ongoing. But, of all the anime that began this season, Solo Leveling is the only one I’ve seen any hype surrounding.

The series is based on a popular manhwa, which means it’s full of Korean names I’m unlikely to remember. It’s like how people who aren’t into anime can’t remember any Japanese names even after they watch a series. I’m not familiar with Korean names, so it’s going to be hard for me to keep track of them.

I’ll try my best, but Episode 1 already introduced quite a few characters. I don’t know how many of these characters will be relevant going forward. But, I’ll get into why that is later on in this review. First, I need to explain what the series is about.

S-Rank Hunter Yoon-Ho Baek from the anime series Solo Leveling Episode 1
S-Rank Hunter Yoon-Ho Baek

Have you seen the anime GATE? Well, the general premise of Solo Leveling is pretty similar. Gates to an alternate world have opened up and monsters have come through them to attack our world. And, just like in GATE, when I say monsters I mean fantasy monsters.

At the same time, some humans have awakened magic which they can use to fight these monsters. Those who use their magic to take the fight to the other world are known as Hunters. Hunters party up to enter the gates and complete the dungeons on the other side.

So, what about modern militaries? I mean, in GATE, the JSDF rolled in with modern firepower and effectively conquered the other world. Can’t Korea do that in Solo Leveling? No, because the monsters are immune to modern weapons, for some reason. You have to fight them with magic ones.

Chained Soldier Manga

Solo Leveling Manga

Jinwoo Sung earns a living as an E-Rank Hunter after mysterious gates connect a world of dungeons and monsters to our own.

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World’s Weakest Hunter

Alright, now let’s talk about the protagonist of the series, Jin-Woo Sung. He’s known among the other Hunters as the “World’s Weakest Hunter.” He got this nickname because he’s the lowest rank of Hunter and is always getting hurt.

The Hunter ranks are as follows: S, A, B, C, D, and E. Jin-Woo is an E-Rank Hunter, meaning he has barely any capacity for magic. When he partakes in raids on D-Rank gates, he’s usually the only person to come out with injuries. That’s how much weaker he is than those around him.

Unfortunately for Jin-Woo, there’s no way to improve your rank. Whatever your magic level is when you awaken it, that’s what it will always be. You can’t train to increase your magic level. And, while you can use magic weapons and armor to get stronger, they can only do so much.

Joohee Lee healing Jin-Woo Sung from the anime series Solo Leveling Episode 1
Joohee Lee healing Jin-Woo Sung

To make matters worse for Jin-Woo, he’s poor. So, the only magic gear he can afford is a single knife, which breaks in this episode. But, that’s also the reason why he decided to become a Hunter despite his rank. He needs the money to help support his family.

Now, it’s at this point that you may be wondering why the title of the series is “Solo Leveling.” Based on the setup in Episode 1, leveling up isn’t possible. Well, I assume something’s going to happen that changes that. And, I assume this change is only going to affect Jin-Woo.

Before I watched Episode 1, I assumed this was a fantasy series about a guy who does quests alone. But, now, it seems like the title is referring to Jin-Woo being the only person who can level up. That would certainly be more interesting than a protagonist who stays the weakest.

We’re All Going to Die

At the end of Episode 1, the party Jin-Woo is a part of finds a tunnel within the dungeon they entered. Going down this tunnel wasn’t part of their original plan. So, they held a vote. And, of course, it all came down to Jin-Woo voting to go.

Some of his companions wanted to go because they didn’t get much loot from the main part of the dungeon. However, others thought it was too risky. The dungeon was D-Rank, so wasn’t a problem for anyone but Jin-Woo. But, who knows what lies at the end of the tunnel?

What they found at the end was a boss room of sorts. Though, it didn’t look like any boss room they’d seen before. It had a proper door, was surrounded by large statues, and had no monsters. And, the ancient writing within the room referred to it as a temple.

Some kind of god statue from the anime series Solo Leveling Episode 1
Some kind of god statue

Well, wouldn’t you know, the statues are actually alive. And, they’re far stronger than the D-Rank the dungeon was given. It’s clear that this isn’t somewhere the Hunters should have gone. But, who knows? Maybe a handful of them will make it out alive.

Now, my assumption is that this is where Jin-Woo gets his level-up skill or whatever it is. He might be the one who defeats the boss and that’s his reward. I don’t know and I won’t know until we see what happens. But, that’s my prediction.

I’ll also go on record to say I don’t think the party will be wiped. It’s possible that they all die and Jin-Woo magically comes back to life. But, what about Joohee Lee? She seems like a pretty important character. I doubt she’d get killed off here. The others, though? They’ll likely all die.

Final Thoughts

What do you think of Solo Leveling Episode 1? Did you read the manhwa? If so, did this first episode live up to your expectations? If you didn’t read the manhwa, what did you think the series was about? Were you right? Let me know in the comments.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

My review of Episode 2 is available now.

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