Solo Leveling (Episode 1) – I’m Used to It

Solo Leveling Title

Portals to another dimension started to appear ten years ago. Only those blessed with magical abilities can fight the monsters that are waiting to come through. However, Jinwoo Sung, the weakest hunter still can’t keep up!

Solo Leveling (Episode 1) – I’m Used to It

What happened?

Those blessed with magical abilities are known as Hunters. Once they awaken, their powers do not change. They can exchange the loot they find in the dungeons on the other side of the portals for equipment and weaponry with which they can presumably acquire more loot. However, they cannot let their guard down. Failure to defeat the dungeon within a certain timeframe makes it possible for the monsters to pass through to our world where they would be almost unstoppable.

Jinwoo Sung is known as the World’s Weakest Hunter. He has an E-Rank, but his appearance at one of the portals is often a reason to celebrate. If Jinwoo is there the dungeon won’t be that difficult… well, at least for everyone but Jinwoo. Because he’s weak, he rarely gets any loot. Therefore, he doesn’t have the chance to upgrade his equipment, and thus he is always going to be the weakest. He keeps pushing himself though. His father recently vanished, his mother is terribly sick, and his sister is almost at the age to go to university. Earning enough money to keep his family going has fallen to him.

So, when his party encounters a rare double dungeon (a dungeon within a dungeon) they take a vote as to whether they will investigate the second dungeon or report back and wait for instructions. Jinwoo has the deciding vote and decides to go for it, much to Joohee’s horror, especially as she just spent most of the battle healing his wounds. After walking for forty minutes, they come across two giant doors. Inside is a large round room full of giant statues, but there appear to be no monsters. Then, the doors slam shut. One hunter tries to open them but is instantly cut down by one of the statues. Remembering some instructions they saw on a stone tablet, Jinwoo manages to react, saving several of the hunters, but not everyone is so lucky!

What did you think?

I loved this episode. I think they nailed the atmosphere in the temple and did a great job of fleshing out the world and explaining how it works. There were some infodumps that could have been handled better, but overall, I can’t fault it. The action was good, especially at the beginning of the episode when we got to see some of the S-Ranked Hunters in action. However, my favourite part of this episode and one of the reasons I got pulled into the manwha was the scene where we met Jinwoo and his party. I was expecting a much more fantasy vibe, but they were all dressed in regular casual clothes and carrying medieval weapons. I loved how jarring that felt. It really made me question what was going on, and once I start asking questions, I need to find out the answers.

I’ve read the first volume of the manwha and really enjoyed that. It was almost a year ago and sadly, I haven’t had a chance to get into the next volumes. I’m definitely thinking about pushing them up my to-read list. Anyhow, it wasn’t until I was two minutes into this episode that I realised that I’m covering Chained Soldier and Solo Leveling from the Winter 2024 season and both have a lot of similarities. Portals linking a magical dimension to Earth. Select people given the ability to fight back. Hopeless protagonist with almost no power. Admittedly, the comparison stops there, although I’m sure there will be more things I spot as the season unfolds. Anyhow, I am loving both and can’t see that changing. It’s a great start to the 2024.

Solo Leveling Episode 1 Jinwoo Sung entering the portal

Episode highlights

Other posts in the series

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  1. I have a less complimentary first impression of Solo Leveling, but I’m willing to see how it goes for another episode or two. I will admit, the temple has its own authoritative atmosphere, as befitting a place where one either worships or dies.

    • I’m not going to deny that this series has some issues. The info dumps and generic themes are fairly unavoidable, however, I had a lot of fun. I’ll likely be reviewing this series with my heart rather than my head.

  2. Having read the webtoon adaptation (though I still got 20+ chapters to completely finish reading it but probably I should reread some important arcs which are my favourites), this premiere episode is a good example of adapted pacing even if several scenes are anime-original. Of course this episode will not please most of anyone who’s part of the anime-only crowd because it’s a fact that the infodump & generic tropes of the LitRPG subgenre have the usual predictable storytelling method though that depends on the anime-only individual since I’ve seen some saying this episode is worthwhile to them especially the final several minutes where the hidden dungeon is obviously an S-rank.

    While I don’t give in to hypes that easily and I still am hesitant in believing this series will get the appropriate pacing along with an important later arc that should avoid having controversial politically correct-like changes (and hopefully the production team don’t give in to such extreme demands), this is
    gonna be one of my better weekly watches this season even if one of my reasons of watching it will sound ridiculous. ????????

    • Agreed, there needs to be some sort of commitment to the long term of the series otherwise, they’ll end up rushing things and/or not getting far enough to really make an impact. I enjoyed the first episode and am hopeful that they can continue like this.

  3. I agree that it is slightly disappointing that the themes are generic. However, that has never stopped me from loving a show. I’ve never read the manhwa, so I can’t comment to the pacing of the content. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. I, too, liked that they were regular Joes dressed in tracksuits. That gave me a good chuckle.

    • Yeah. However, originality is getting harder and harder to come by, so there’s always going to be some overlap with other stories. I think it comes down to enjoyment and I enjoyed it, so I’m not worrying too much about how much I’ve seen before.

What did you think?