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Solo Leveling ticks all right boxes, but…!

Solo Leveling, the anime, is finally here. If you don’t know why that matters, anime typically adapts manga (Japanese comics). Solo Leveling is a manhwa, a Korean comic. Japanese anime adaptations of Korean manhwas are rare.

Manhwa adaptations have a bad reputation and for a good reason. The best manhwas are comparable to a drug. You can’t get enough of them. The art is simply divine, and the action will take your breath away.  Once that first chapter hooks you, you will inhale the next two hundred chapters within a day or two because you have chosen to neglect every other responsibility in your life, be it work or school.

Unfortunately, the anime adaptations always fall short. Somehow, even the action in animated format is inferior to what you read on paper. I suppose some stories are best consumed in comic book form. They lose their spark once you adapt them.

Solo Leveling could be the exception. I’m in the minority. I don’t like Solo Leveling. It ticks all the right boxes (flawless art, engaging concept, brilliant action, etc). However, the comic is poorly written. The dialogue is atrocious. I read a lot of novels, and the quality of the writing matters to me; the dialogue in Solo Leveling is inexcusably bad.

Even if I could ignore the dialogue boxes, the structure of the comic is equally infuriating. Every page had twice as many panels as it needed. You know how some scenes in a novel fail because the author kills the momentum by adding pointless descriptions? Solo Leveling displays the same weakness. Scenes that should feel snappy and frenetic are slow and clumsy.

Strangely enough, I don’t blame the author. He did his part. He produced a gem of a story. The editor should have stepped in near the end and refined it.  Then again, maybe the author of Solo Leveling was too cheap to hire an editor, which would make the comic’s questionable state his fault.

I gave Solo Leveling a decent shot. I read 25 - 30 chapters when the manhwa first came out. After a while, I couldn’t continue. Years later, when the manhwa’s popularity skyrocketed, I gave it another chance, and again, dropped it.

This is why the anime excites me. Like I said, the manhwa ticks all the right boxes. It just needs an editor to polish it. The anime adaptation can achieve that objective. I watched the first episode a few hours ago and liked it. The episode delivered a leaner, tighter narrative than what we got from the manhwa.

Although, it would not surprise me if the anime repels hardcore Solo Leveling fans. Like I said, I’m in the minority. Most people love Solo Leveling. So naturally, they may perceive the improvements as a downgrade. We won’t know until the anime ends. While I liked episode 1 (which you can watch today on Crunchyroll), I was not necessarily jumping out of my seat with excitement.

In fact, the only new anime I’m truly loving is Ishura. It feels like a breath of fresh air. I don’t know why, but the mythology we got in the first episode reminded me of Dark Souls.

Anyway, Solo Leveling looks good for now. Hopefully, it ends on a high note. I don’t want the anime to repeat the manhwa’s pattern by losing me after a few episodes.


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