First Look: Solo Leveling

First Glance: Solo Leveling

Manhwa Adaptation by A-1 Pictures
Streaming on Crunchyroll


Dimensional vortexes started to spring up ten years ago all across the planet, unleashing a variety of fantastical creatures that were impervious to traditional weapons. They can only be defeated by magically endowed people known as “Hunters,” however the main character Sung Jinwoo is “the Weakest Hunter.” Maybe if he levels up, he could eventually become the strongest Hunter?

Iro’s verdict: Nothing For Me

How does one even say anything? One of the biggest and most anticipated anime series to date, Solo Leveling embodies every issue plaguing the anime industry today. Although A-1 is undoubtedly giving it their all, the show’s premise is complete garbage. It’s the most cliched isekai/xianxia power fantasy ever—“what if the weakest guy got the ability to level grind like in your favorite video games and then became the strongest guy”—and no amount of expert production can make up for it. The only positive thing I can say about it is that, unlike many other series, the protagonist here isn’t, as of yet, some kind of incel slave-owner rapist. But it really just goes to show how far we’ve fallen when I’m listing the barest minimum as a bonus. There is an anime overton window.

Artemis’ verdict: I switched tabs to check my email halfway through

To be honest, this was a dull premiere. I said it there. I know, I know that one of the most eagerly awaited new releases of the winter season is Solo Leveling, but I just discovered this. general. Bland. Overused. Not very inspiring. Whatever phrase you want to use, there were moments when I was on the verge of falling asleep, partly because of the excessively drawn-out exposition and partly because of our uninteresting and somewhat bland heroes. And who knows, things might improve. After a few episodes, the story and the cast come together to create a coherent whole that defies accepted conventions of the modern dungeon-crawler genre and offers something genuinely unique and unexpected. Perhaps then, this will actually be worth it. However, it might not. Either way, there is clearly a serious issue with the storytelling if someone has to comfort someone about a show by saying, “Don’t worry, it gets good at episode xyz.”

Zigg’s verdict: Holy Shit This Sucks

I’m so sick and tired of bad television employing terms from video games and the inflexible clichés of the genre to get out of actually developing characters, creating believable worlds, or even providing simple explanations. This creature is a disoriented zombie composed of segments from other programs that are also zombies. Just as meaningless as eating animated wallpaper paste, and entirely unoriginal.

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