Cheat Sheet: Solo Leveling Season 1

Here’s a quick roundup of what you need to know about this popular South Korean webtoon. The anime series is currently available on Crunchyroll.
Cheat Sheet: Solo Leveling Season 1
Cheat Sheet: Solo Leveling Season 1

Based on a South Korean webtoon, the new fantasy anime Solo Leveling is set in a world with epic battles, monsters, humans with supernatural abilities and also high school. The show’s worldbuilding focuses on how the boundaries between two worlds have eroded, letting monsters encroach upon the earth’s surface. To combat them, some humans have become “hunters”, the term used to describe warriors with supernatural abilities. A hunter is among the most sought-after professions, not just because of the powers that come with the job but also because the hunter gets any treasure found in a monster’s den. 

Our hero is a young man named Jin-woo Sung, who is lowly-ranked among hunters but whose life changes when a mysterious program known as System chooses Jin-woo as a solo player and levels up his powers. 

Where Can I Watch the Show?

The show’s distributor is Crunchyroll. The platform was recently launched in India, and at the moment the subscription stands at a relatively affordable rate.

The Dub or the Sub?

Anime dubs have gathered a notorious reputation, but the English dubbing for Solo Leveling is excellent, and is led by American voice actor and ADR director Caitlin Glass who has also worked on Fullmetal Alchemist as well as Ouran High School Host Club

A still from Solo Leveling.
A still from Solo Leveling.

What Work is the Anime Based on?

It is based on Chugong’s web-comic of the same name. The first part appeared online in July 2016 and the series ended with chapter 179, on December 29, 2021. 

What Does ‘Levelling up’ Mean in Solo Leveling?

There are grades assigned to both hunters and monsters. For hunters, these ranks range from S to E, with S being the highest and E denoting the lowest in the rung. These designations are fixed, and are only changed under exceptional situations. Levelling up would mean travelling upwards within this line of rigid hierarchy.

A still from Solo Leveling.
A still from Solo Leveling.

What is the Scope of Season 1?

The first season of the fantasy anime is heavy on exposition, and is concerned with elaborating on the dynamic between the hunters and the monsters, and on what basis they are allotted their respective ranks. Initially, season 1 was announced as consisting of 12 episodes, but there are now rumours that it might extend to to 24-25 episodes.

Who is Behind the Animation?

It is produced by A1 Pictures, a Japanese animation studio which is a part  of Sony Music Entertainment’s anime firm Aniplex, and has also produced Sword Art Online.

What is an Isekai Protagonist?

An Isekai protagonist refers to a tradition of storytelling where a ‘weak’ protagonist evolves to become more powerful. This could happen suddenly due to being placed in a different realm or because the protagonist is going through something transformative within a short span of time. Jin-woo of Solo Leveling seems to have a lot in common with the isekai model. Aside from his sudden new powers, the anime series has dungeon crawls, ranking amongst a subgroup, and the trope of fighting off fantastical elements. However, it’s too early to tell for certain. 

A still from Solo Leveling.
A still from Solo Leveling.

An Open-Ended Storytelling

Unlike revered animes like Naruto, where the end-goal of the protagonist is apparent from the start (the protagonist wants to be a Hokage), Solo Leveling does not dabble in the same sort of journey, and has a more open-ended route as far as the conclusion is concerned.

What is the Controversy Around Studio PPURI?

The South Korean animation studio is responsible for the opening song of the season, and was recently trolled for aligning itself with a feminist group called Megalia. The group is renowned for assessing misogynistic instances online, and bringing them forward, but the symbol used by the group was construed to refer to small penis sizes in Korea, spurring reactions which characterised them as “anti-men”. The studio’s name was removed from the post-credits scene. D&C media, which published the Solo Leveling series, saw a 6% decline in their stock, leading to speculation that the drop was connected to the criticism levelled at the studio. 

Trivia: Hiroyuki Sawano has Scored the Adaptation

Sawano produced the opening theme of the show in collaboration with TOMORROWxTOGETHER. He was also behind the iconic score in Attack on Titan.

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