Solo Leveling Episode 3 Review

Solo Leveling Episode 3 Review

Second Awakenings

Solo Leveling Episode 3 is where the story probably should have begun. The first two episodes weren’t that interesting because we already had an idea of what was to come. They delayed the inevitable. I would have rather seen that content later in the series in the form of multiple flashbacks.

But, I complained about that enough in my review of Episode 2. This week, let’s discuss some far more interesting developments, starting with second awakenings. Second awakenings are when a person who previously awoke their mana awakens again. It’s rare. But, it’s a known phenomenon.

And, I’d like to point out that the fact that this is a known phenomenon would have been nice to know earlier. It kind of goes against some of the initial world building from the first two episodes. So, there’s more proof for those first two episodes being a waste of time.

A visual representation of a Second Awakening from the anime series Solo Leveling Episode 3
Second Awakening

Anyway, all we know about second awakenings is that they can vastly increase one’s mana. As Jin-Woo (I’ve decided to use all the hyphenated names) says, someone can even become A- or S-rank. But, what we don’t know is how a second awakening might change someone’s mana in other ways.

For example, does everyone with mana have the same kind of mana? Do they then decide how they want to specialize, like in healing? Or, do your abilities get locked in when you awaken? Is Joo-Hee a healer by choice? Or was that role forced upon her?

If your abilities are determined by your mana, then can that change after a second awakening? If Joo-Hee had a second awakening, could she become a pyromancer instead of a healer? We don’t know. And, that’s information I’d like to have. It would make theorizing about second awakenings a lot more fun.

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It’s Time to Level Up

Alright, so here’s the big question of the episode. Does what happened to Jin-Woo count as a second awakening? If not, then what happened to him is truly unique. And, that would mean that we still don’t know what causes a second awakening.

But, if he did undergo a second awakening, that spawns a lot of other questions. Does everyone who undergoes a second awakening survive an ordeal like he did? If so, do they just not talk about it? I mean, Jin-Woo hasn’t actually brought up the floating status screens he sees to anyone yet.

Does this mean there are others who recognize what’s happening with the gates as some sort of game? Or does is the fact that Jin-Woo is now a “player” his specific second awakening? Like I mentioned earlier, a second awakening could grant someone a new role. And his role might be that of the “player.”

Jin-Woo's status screens from the anime series Solo Leveling Episode 3
Jin-Woo’s status screens

I’m not sure what I think at this stage. To me, it would make sense for there to be other “players.” And, in the world of Solo Leveling, for those people to be known as those with a “second awakening.”

However, it also makes sense if that’s not the case. Whether or not what happened to Jin-Woo is a second awakening, it does appear to be unique. We know that Jin-Woo can level up not only his stats but himself. We see his level on one of the status screens pictured above.

What makes me think this role as a “player” is unique is that there was no mention of leveling up at any other point. The men who show up at the hospital want to immediately check Jin-Woo’s mana. That implies that other known second awakenings didn’t have to level up their stats.

Instance Dungeons

The last thing I want to go over in this review is the appearance of instance dungeons. These are special dungeons that are only visible and accessible to a specific person. In the case of the instance dungeon in Episode 3, Jin-Woo is that specific person.

So, why is it called an instance dungeon? It’s because of how the dungeon interacts with the rest of the world — it doesn’t. It’s a dungeon that only exists in Jin-Woo’s “instance” of the “game.” And, that wording seems like it could be pretty important.

Instance dungeons imply that this is all a game. It being a game doesn’t make it any less real. It’s not like what happens within the game doesn’t matter for the real world. And, as far as we know, it’s not an SAO scenario where people are trapped within a game.

An instance dungeon gate from the anime series Solo Leveling Episode 3
An instance dungeon gate

Instead, calling this all a game is a way to explain the true nature of whatever’s going on. Jin-Woo can see that it’s a game. The other hunters, and even the civilians, are interacting with the same game system. The difference is simply that they aren’t able to recognize it as such.

Alright, so back to why this could be important. If this is all a game, then it also means a few other things should be true. There should be someone or some organization behind everything. And, there should be some way to “beat” the game.

That last point isn’t necessarily true. It could be that whoever created the game didn’t intend for it to be beaten. But, that doesn’t make too much sense. I mean, the point of playing a game is to eventually beat it. Even if the real fun is the journey, there’s always a final act.

Final Thoughts

What do you think of Solo Leveling Episode 3? Do you think what happened to Jin-Woo counts as a second awakening? Do you think there are other “players” out there somewhere? And, what do you think of the implication that this is all a game? 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 at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about supporting this blog, check out

My review of Episode 4 is available now.

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