Most Webtoons start their lives out as web novels that are self-published by their creator. But if their story is good, then it’s a meteoric rise from there. Soon they get a webtoon serialization, and if they are really lucky, there might be a live-action drama in the works. However, Korean webtoons being adapted into anime is a very recent development, but one I’m happy to see picking up. There are some great stories out there that would work so well as an anime, and Solo Leveling is in the very top tier of that list.
Amidst many rumors that were floating around, Crunchyroll confirmed that the Solo Leveling anime adaptation is still going to be released, and it is being worked upon by Studio A-1 Pictures. On July 3rd, they revealed that fans could expect the highly anticipated anime to drop sometime next year, in 2023. So, it looks like enthusiasts wouldn’t have to wait too long to see best boy Sung Jin-Woo and his antics in a world where he can evolve infinitely.
Though, there has been some sad news coming in regarding the illustrator of the Solo Leveling webtoon. Seong-Rak Jang, also known as DUBU, recently passed away at the young age of 40 due to a cerebral hemorrhage. DUBU was the main artist for the popular webtoon since its inception in 2018 and the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of REDICE, a well-known manhwa publishing studio in South Korea. Some of their other popular works include Overgeared, What It Takes To Be A Villainess, and more.
However, Solo Leveling was the first of their projects to get an anime adaptation. You know, as a veteran webtoon connoisseur (And by a veteran, I mean I fell down the Line WebToon rabbit hole in 2017 and never got out.), I’m really happy to see how far the medium has come. So, what can we expect from an anime that uses one of the biggest webtoons in the world as its source material? With the success of the Tower Of God anime, I’m guessing a lot. So, let’s discuss.
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Solo Leveling: Why Is It So Big?
Honestly, it’s not surprising why Solo Leveling got so popular. Isekai was already on the rise in the early 2010s due to the success of franchises such as Sword Art Online, Grimgar Of Fantasy, And Ash, and, this one is an earlier example, Digimon. Yes, Digimon is considered an Isekai. No, I was just as surprised as you are.
There is just something so wondrous about being transported into a different dimension filled with fantastical creatures and magic. But there’s also the action and adventure of it all, which is what makes Solo Leveling so interesting. Imagine a world that works on video game mechanics and being gifted with the ability to exploit that system like a cheat in real life.
It’s an interesting premise, with its gorgeous art style (courtesy of DUBU) selling it perfectly. The plot itself mixes fantastical Isekai elements with fast-paced Shonen-esque ones, making it an extremely entertaining read. All these things combined make for a promising animation project.
A Winning Combo: Manhwa Visuals With Classic Shonen Tropes!
Speaking of, the most notable factor of the Solo Leveling webtoon is the fact that it follows manhwa aesthetics. This means extremely detailed backgrounds, with gorgeous panels and all of that in full color. It’s less manga, more graphic novel.
Where traditional Shonen is more limited in its art due to the black and white style, over here, the artist can take more liberties with their stylistic choices. Mixing the intricate art design that is traditional of Korean webtoons with the high-intensity energy and dynamics of a Japanese Shonen and, well. You have a story that can easily become popular with anime fans.
As a fan of Shonen (Hello, Uchiha Fangirl, remember?), I’m just really happy to see how the genre is getting some new life being breathed into it. And as someone who doesn’t enjoy Isekai, I can still see the appeal of tales.
The Anime Industry’s Interest In The Webtoon Market (And Beyond):
Hey, I am really glad that the anime industry has turned its eyes to stories outside of Japan for more adaptations. We already know they are being well received by fans across the world.
For example, in China, ‘donghuas’ such as Mo Dao Zu Shi and Link Click have been huge, huge hits. I recently just started one myself, known as Tian Guan Ci Fu, and I can see the appeal. The animation is so gorgeous that I couldn’t help but binge it. There’s just a lot of potential here.
Because of this, the anime industry is branching out, and the line between what is and isn’t anime is getting blurrier. Anime isn’t strictly limited to stories only relative to Japan. With adaptations of Noblesse, The God Of Highschool, and, now, Solo Leveling, we can only hope for our favorites to get picked up.
Here’s hoping for an anime adaptation of Remarried Empress!