Solo Leveling did not follow the recent anime trend of combining the first two episodes into one longer episode to build anticipation and hook viewers from the start. The first episode is slow-paced and mainly concerned with setting up the story, while the second episode reveals the true potential of the series. Episode 2 introduced compelling elements such as intense violence, extraordinary consequences of failure, and a compelling transformation of the main character, making this episode a standout.
Warning: Spoilers for Solo Leveling episode #2
The highly anticipated anime adaptation of Level up alone was able to get through the slow-paced first episode, although the latter episode was much better by comparison. The anime decided not to follow the new trend, recently led by the hits Oshi no Ko and Frieren, the series launched successfully with the first episode being over 40 minutes long so they had enough time to build the story.
Sometimes translated as Only I Level Up, this adaptation of Chugong’s Korean web novel revolves around a weak “hunter”, a supernatural being named Sung Jinwoo, who has the ability to increase unique level. The first two episodes take place before that happens, which might make sense to present them in one neat package.
The problem with dividing the opening paragraph into two parts is nothing in the first episode effectively proves that Solo Leveling is worth the hype. It wasn’t until the exciting episode #2 of Solo Leveling that viewers finally realized why manhwa and web novel readers were excited about this adaptation.
Solo leveling up became exaggerated starting from episode #2
Produced by A-1 Pictures, based on the web novel by Chugong
Episode #1 presents viewers with a weak hero wanting to prove himself – a common metaphor – whose party stumbles into a rare second boss room in the dungeon. The first death in the first episode isn’t enough to grab the attention of first-time viewers unfamiliar with the story. The mystery the premiere created about the second boss was only fully explored in a later episode. In fact, the statue’s terrifying facial expression in episode #2 really captivates viewers, especially since it features the best features of Attack on Titan’s iconic titans.
Episode #2 also sees the group endure brutal and unique consequences for failing to answer a deadly riddle, rather than just being killed. While the graphic deaths are intense and frequent, they aren’t even the highlight of the episode. The same could be said about the helplessness and ultimately the eroded courage of the more experienced members of Jinwoo’s group. Although episode #1 ends with everyone terrified, it pales in comparison to the trauma they suffered in episode #2.
Jinwoo’s weakness and desire to put himself in danger to provide for his family, seen in the first episode, was also just a bland retelling of a cliché situation. More interestingly, Jinwoo then adopted an unprecedented realistic and understandable way of thinking in his final moments, which broke his original “good guy” personality. He became resentful of his situation and even condemned those who abandoned him. Not only does this make Jinwoo a more controversial character, but it also makes viewers want him to somehow avenge himself.
Obviously, episode 2 also has many other attractive elements compared to the first episode of the movie. That, and the fact that the latest season ends just as the story really begins, is further proof that the two episodes should probably be combined into one truly memorable premiere. Of course, Level up alone the series’ success proves that the series hasn’t followed the latest anime trends, and that’s what matters.
Level up alone airs new episodes every Saturday on Crunchyroll.
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