Apr 2, 2024
A young man, known as the weakest hunter in the history of mankind, goes on an expedition into a gate alongside a team of other hunters to enter a dungeon and defeat the monsters within and get a payday for whatever contribution he can make, risking his life to do it. What was supposed to be a simple dungeon clearing turns into a waking nightmare as the party of hunters discovers that there is more to the dungeon than they initially thought. After taking vote, the weakest hunter makes the deciding vote to press forward, not knowing that everyone's life was about to change - some more so than others.

Solo Leveling is well-animated and well-directed - the pacing of the anime is solid and continues to compound with interest in every passing episode. There is plenty of action with interludes of worldbuilding and character development. The scope of the premise is large and, at this time in the setting, mostly mysterious.

The mechanics of the setting are simple: some individuals undergo 'awakening', meaning that their body becomes far more powerful than that of a normal human's and they may gain special (magical) powers. The monsters of the setting can only be defeated by those who have awakened - conventional weaponry does nothing (but strangely the defense budget spending only ever goes up). Once someone has awakened, that's it - that is the most powerful they will ever be. They cannot grow stronger... but (there it is) the protagonist ends up with an especially good deal: he can continue to grow stronger by defeating more monsters and more difficult monsters.

The writing is decent. Scene compositions are thoughtful, giving screentime to other established characters in the setting to better flesh out the setting. The action is mostly good, if a bit over-the-top, but that really was a key component for the success of Solo Leveling in the first place.

I recommend this anime for anyone looking for an action power-fantasy with some measure of progression. It is a solid entry into the genre.

P.S.: this seems to be a somewhat divisive title at this time, so here are two more cents for the fountain: I've read the source material as well as the manwha adaptation. I consider Solo Leveling to be an unremarkable power fantasy story - the writing is merely fine and never graduates to anything beyond that. The manwha had some impressive art compositions throughout and maintained a strong visual presence of hype. This season of anime is another story by itself, and it can stand alone as being an example of solid execution for what it is. It is well done, action-packed, and does a fair job with worldbuilding.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8
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