Solo Leveling Review

Solo Leveling Review

Solo Leveling anime cover art
Solo Leveling

Do You Like Generic Power Fantasy?

Solo Leveling (Ore dake Level Up na Ken / 俺だけレベルアップな件) is a generic power fantasy anime. The only thing separating it from the likes of Sword Art Online is that it’s a Korean series. So, if SAO is something you like, you’ll probably like this, too.

As you can likely guess from the title, the series is about a guy who levels up alone. But, that’s still not a very descriptive title. It’s not like those light novel titles that spell out the whole series. So, what exactly is Solo Leveling about?

It’s about a future (present?) in which portals to another dimension open up all over the world. These portals lead to fantasy dungeons. And, if the dungeons aren’t conquered fast enough, the monsters within them break out. However, combat in this series isn’t like combat in GATE.

Jinwoo before his second awakening from the anime series Solo Leveling
Jinwoo before his second awakening

What do I mean when I say the combat isn’t like in GATE? If you’re not familiar with GATE, it has pretty much the same premise as Solo Leveling. But, in GATE, Japan uses its full military force to decimate the inhabitants of the fantasy world. They send in tanks, helicopters, etc.

That kind of stuff won’t work in the dungeons of Solo Leveling. Instead, when the portals appeared, some people awoke special powers. Basically, they turned into fantasy classes (sorcerers, swordsmen, assassins, healers, and more). The only way to defeat the monsters within the dungeons is to use the abilities of these classes.

Let’s say you have a gun. Will that gun hurt the monsters within a dungeon? No. But, if you awoke as a pyromancer, you could cast fireball spells to hurt the monsters. Or, if you awoke as a swordsman, you could use a sword made from materials from the dungeon.

From Weakest to Strongest

It’s time to go over the whole “solo leveling” thing. You see, in this world, there’s no way to “level up” or get stronger once your ability has awoken. If you awoke as a mage with D-Rank mana, you’ll be a D-Rank mage forever.

At least, that’s what we’re told at the start of the series. But, it turns out that there are very rare cases in which a person can become stronger. Though, it’s still not by leveling up, as the title of the series suggests. Sometimes, people undergo a second awakening.

If you undergo a second awakening, you might change from a D-Rank mage to a B-Rank swordsman. How does this happen? Nobody knows. However, there’s one second awakening that’s different from all the others. And, can you believe it? It’s the second awakening of the protagonist, Jinwoo Sung.

Jinwoo after his second awakening from the anime series Solo Leveling
Jinwoo after his second awakening

Jinwoo was an E-Rank… something. I don’t actually know what his class was. He was a generic weakling. But, after undergoing an extreme situation within a dungeon, he experienced a second awakening. His second awakening isn’t like the others we’ve heard about, though. Jinwoo is able to level up and get stronger.

Now, Jinwoo still doesn’t exactly have a class. At least, not at first. And, this is one of the main reasons why his second awakening might be unique. He’s not limited in what he can do. It’s not like he’s now a healer who can only perform that role. He can do pretty much anything.

This is where things really start to look like other power fantasy anime. Think of Rimuru from Tensura or Shishou from TenKen. Like them, Jinwoo can acquire skills simply by defeating enemies. So, as he fights, he not only levels up but also gains more skills.

I’m Not That Interested in Seeing More

Solo Leveling doesn’t really do anything that hasn’t been done before. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming. But, the outcomes of those twists haven’t yet altered the series in any meaningful way.

The twists in this series tend to be related to Jinwoo becoming stronger. He might become stronger in a way you weren’t expecting. However, the end result is the same — he’s stronger in some absurd way. Oh, he doesn’t have a weapon to cut through armor? He gets penalized and receives a weapon that can as his reward for completing the penalty.

It’s generally stuff like that. Sure, I didn’t see that coming, so technically it’s a twist. But, it’s a twist that feels more like a Deus ex machina. That’s the big issue with this series. It’s hard to get invested when every conflict has this kind of resolution.

Jinwoo recruiting Igris the Bloodred from the anime series Solo Leveling
Jinwoo recruiting Igris the Bloodred

Overall, Solo Leveling is fine. I’ve already compared it to SAO, and I stand by that comparison. It’s a fine anime if you’re not looking to get much out of it. If you are, though, you’ll be pretty disappointed by this one.

I’ve watched a lot of anime over the years. Solo Leveling falls into the category of anime I have no interest in continuing. If it gets a second season, cool. I probably won’t watch it unless the rest of the season is dead. I’m not interested enough in the story or characters to keep watching.

A lot of people were hyping up this series when the anime was first announced. It seems that most of the hype surrounding this series was because it’s Korean. Well, this is the third big manhwa to get an anime and they’re all mid. Tower of God is the most interesting.

Final Thoughts

I gave Solo Leveling a 6/10. As I said, it’s fine. I don’t see this series having any staying power in the anime community. It’ll be forgotten in a few weeks, at most, when all the much better anime from the spring season begin.

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

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