Aug 21, 2020
We talk a lot about manga on our podcast, but in truth, comics are a worldwide phenomenon. For instance, Dark Mage, the comic we covered on our most recent episode (at the time of this writing), is actually not a manga but a “manhwa,” a comic from South Korea. If that episode got you interested in that medium then you should check out Solo Leveling.
Solo Leveling is set in a world where monsters have begun to invade our world, leading to certain people, hunters, gaining the ability to fight them. The main character is Sung Jin-Woo, considered by his peers to be the weakest of the hunters. However, after surviving a terrifying encounter with a high-level monster, video game-style menu screens start appearing to him, giving him instructions on how to get stronger.
Like Dark Mage, Solo Leveling is an action manhwa that takes place in a world heavily influenced by games. While Dark Mage was all about Dungeons and Dragons, Solo Leveling instead takes influence from MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. Everything from how the hunters team up to take on dungeons, how their parties consist of traditional gaming roles like tank and healer, to how Jin-Woo is able to tell how strong monsters are by the text color of their names, serves to reinforce the video game spirit. This creates a very interesting fusion of a setting that isn’t quite like anything I’ve read before.
Unlike Shonen Jump manga, which is intended to be printed in black-and-white physical books, Solo Leveling is a “webtoon,” meaning that it was created specifically to be read on a computer or phone screen. The result is some truly incredible fully colored art, which is formatted in panel arrangements that would not be possible in a physically printed comic that you'll have to read for yourself to see.
Solo Leveling at the time of writing has 114 chapters. You can read the first 15 for free via the official release here. It’s drawn by Dubu and written by Chugong, who also wrote the web novel ‘Only I Level Up’ which the series is adapted from.