Solo Leveling fans torn on controversial anime changes

Anthony McGlynn
Solo Leveling episode 6Crunchyroll

Solo Leveling has been making some subtle changes between the anime and manhwa, and fans aren’t sure it’s all been for the better.

Now six episodes in, Solo Leveling has firmly established itself as a breakout anime thanks to a clever premise and some eye-catching visuals. In the show, Sung Jinwoo, an E-class hero, miraculously survives a horrifying dungeon, giving him the unique ability to move up in rank, potentially challenging the strongest Solo Leveling characters.

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He’s guided by a strange AI that appears tied to the mysterious portals and strange powers that have been occurring over the last several years. Though the anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures has done the story justice, the tone isn’t quite the same as Chugong’s manhwa (the South Korean equivalent to manga).

Solo Leveling fans aren’t happy with the anime

Although Solo Leveling has plenty of violence, Chugong includes a lot of humor. You get funny reactions and some comic relief from particular characters that helps relieve all the despair and bloodshed. So far, the show has had very little of this, and fans who know the source material have concerns.

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“It’s good that they’re making the series look more serious but I do hope they put in a bit of comic relief scenes later on such as Iron and the other shadows goofing off,” one Reddit commented on a thread about the changes.

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They’re referencing Kim Chul’s shadow, Iron, who can sometimes be playful despite their dedication to killing their targets. “The shadows goofing off was part of their charm,” another user adds. “They even all had personalities thanks to those quirks. They remove those and what are we left with? Mindless minions.”

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Manwha often uses comical tropes like chibi faces, something that never sat right with a story that contains so much darkness, literally and figuratively. “It’s definitely a good thing. In the manhwa it felt comical which is weird considering the situation,” a commenter states. “In my opinion, SL works better as a full-on serious show without those goofy anime facial expressions. You can have comedy, you just don’t need to exaggerate it.”

I’m happy about the removal of some visual gags, because they really wouldn’t fit with the world and storytelling. That said, if characters are re-written more sternly, it’d be a shame to lose some of the charm. Solo Leveling episode 7 arrives on Crunchyroll February 17.

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About The Author

Anthony is the Senior Anime Writer at Dexerto. He has over a decade's experience covering games and pop culture for outlets such as Variety, IGN, Den of Geek, PCGamesN, PCGamer, The Digital Fix, and many more. He loves horror, sci-fi, heavy metal, Studio Ghibli, and The Muppets. He enjoys pro wrestling too, but don't hold that against him. You can find him at: anthony.mcglynn@dexerto.com