Manga Cafe Monday: Solo Leveling

Characters

Sung Jin-woo – MC, the weakest of the E-rank hunters upon introduction. Static sick mom, younger sibling going to college, needs to be the grown up who does the stupid stuff to keep the family going trope.

Kim Sang-shik

Bak – a man with a wife anticipating a second child

Ju-Hee – worried healer, first female introduced, doesn’t understand why Sung is even a hunter and needles him to tell her his life story quite a bit.

Song Chi-Yul – party leader on introduction raid of story

Setting

Seol, South Korea – the opening location following the dungeon

Gate – a portal that connects dimensions on a timer between Seoul and the dungeon area.

My Opinion

I tend to be wary of getting involved with Manwa. I stumbled into Killing Stalking as my first introduction and made it about a chapter in before noping out of that. It didn’t help that a lot of screen reading wasn’t set up to scroll Manwa, which was designed for screen reading in Korea. I have read a couple since then, though I have allowed them to fall by the wayside seeing as they are so long lived and sometimes arcs drag the storyline. Solo Leveling is an ongoing series, and I am writing this in 2021, knowing full well this is not going to be a “completed manga review.” I liked the cover art and decided to give it a try.

Can I just say, starting off the story with the gradient colors and OMG the flatting is spot on. The pacing is clean and the line weight gives good texture without being dramatically stylized.

We’re acknowledging raids, guilds, leveling, and Hunters in Seoul and not in an AR video game. Intro to monsters and dungeon levels. Monsters produce cores that have value. Many of the hunters are able to use those cores to buy better equipment, there by increasing their ability to raise their levels and stay safe. Our MC, because he has financial obligations to his family, is unable to put away enough money off the cores to be able to obtain equipment he needs to level proficiently and be able to bring in more money for his family. It’s a nasty cycle that feels pretty tropey, however, this is pretty accurate to the current socio-economic state of affairs of most nations in that many people living within a certain economic bracket find themselves so entrenched in debt that they cannot find a way to climb out. Some days writing tropes is really writing about the world around you and acknowledging that history repeats itself.

This story hits the ground running. You get a sense of the desperation in the background of people dealing with feeling insignificant and bound to a world not built for them, as a person looking at the author of the manwa itself. If you dive into it, it’s refreshing to start with a character that acknowledges being weak and doing a job they’d rather not be doing, rather than starting out with a bored OP character. This is all acknowledged within the first couple chapters. So, a paced background on the character during forward momentum of the intro to the rest of the story. As said, well paced, could be fast paced, but it’s not skipping important information for sake of length, or dawdling on details that do not benefit the story’s progress.

Grant it, the way these types of stories run, the MC is going to turn over powered. People are going to die. Something about flagging yourself on introduction about having a pregnant wife, etc. etc.

I have to appreciate the effect of introducing powerful individuals who are taken down by a boss without problem. So often there are all powerful characters that might get a bit beaten, but to set up true despair for the MC by watching people much more powerful than himself get taken out, its a good way of building up “The One” style storyline. Also helps with how the title is going to be woven into the script.

It’s dark, and bloody, and a touch gritty. It’s enough psych-horror to touch my apatite without crossing lines like Stalking. I don’t think I’m forgiving that particular Manwa anytime soon.

This one is proving to have my interest currently. It has good atmosphere, good tension. It makes you question actions and feel satisfied with the slight twists in familiar results. I’m running with this one being a good read. The first 9 chapters have proved to be exciting.

*Edit update, having reached chapter 57 on the same day as the post. The art is keeping up if not surpassing the initial chapters. The pacing is fast, but balanced. Character development is spot on without being overbearing. Yes. This is a good one to invest some time in.

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Chapel Orahamm View All →

I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.

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