Originally, you’d have to turn to sites like Webtoon to read manhwa, but Solo Leveling is opening new doors as the first to receive print serialization with English translation. Solo Leveling by Chugong and Dubu is my favorite manhwa, so when Yen Press announced that they would be publishing it into a manga series, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Not only because I was curious in seeing how they would format the chapters given that they are read vertically, but also because manhwa is getting more recognition. That isn’t to say it isn’t popular, because it definitely is, especially with Tower of God, The God of High School, and Noblesse receiving anime adaptations. But now with the Solo Leveling manga series, we not only get to enjoy manhwa on our screens via anime and online publications, but also have it in our hands and on our shelves as well.
The first volume of Solo Leveling includes up through Chapter 12 of the manhwa and concludes at the very beginning of Chapter 13, so it's a decently sized read. I must admit I was slightly worried with how they would translate it over from the manhwa to manga, but I’m thoroughly impressed with the release. The way they chose to cut and paste the panels allowed for a smooth reading experience and the art, which already looks amazing in the manhwa, looks just as great in the manga. The cover of Volume 1 alone shows you what you are in for in terms of the artwork for this series, which is nothing short of incredible.
When reading online or in apps, the frames are larger, but the way they chose to break up the in-between scenes that lead up to those more impactful, memorable moments and how they varied the sizing of these different panels, helped build up the story in a way that, for me, made it even more enjoyable and suspenseful to read.
The English translation has also been updated in these new volumes. When I compared the first volume to the corresponding chapters of the original source material, the story was exactly the same, but the wording of the sentences and the dialogue is slightly different. Since everything has the same sentiment and nothing major was altered, these small changes are welcomed. I actually prefer the translation of the manga over the manhwa, because the updates they made further enhanced the readability and everything sounded and/or transitioned better.
Since manhwa is drawn in full color, the first volume of Solo Leveling provided a nice break from my daily manga reading, which features black and white art. While I love those series, there’s something so pleasing about seeing everything in full color. Because of this, Solo Leveling is printed on the type of paper you’d typically see comic books printed on, particularly omnibuses, so the pages are of higher quality than most. Overall, the design of the Solo Leveling volumes and the quality with which they were made make them well worth their higher retail price of $19.99 USD.
Even if you have already read the chapters of Solo Leveling, I highly recommend picking up the manga and experiencing it in this new format. If you have yet to read the series, you should definitely check it out, because it features an incredible story, intriguing world, and strong characters.
The story of Solo Leveling follows Sung Jin-Woo, an E-rank Hunter. Even though he’s classified to be the weakest Hunter, he still endangers his life by entering dungeons to earn money for his family. Events occur that leave Jin-Woo on the brink of death, but he is saved and given a strange power that allows him to see a secret way to leveling up that only he’s aware of.
The story really is about him becoming strong despite being labeled “weak”, but while he isn’t initially strong in terms of his physical abilities or powers, he is strong in other areas, such as his will and problem-solving skills. And on top of all that, he has a courageous heart. It takes a lot for someone who knows they are weak to stand tall and enter dangerous situations regardless, and this is one of his strongest qualities This is something that, in my opinion, makes for a great main character; Someone who doesn’t yet know their full potential, but later comes into their own, and because of their humble beginnings, is extremely likable as a result.
There’s also some mystery to the story that makes it really intriguing and the dungeons are designed in a way that make them more so a puzzle rather than tasks that can be cleared with something as simple as brute strength. I also really enjoy the boss and monster designs, which are unique. There are many series that center around dungeons, but Solo Leveling is a refreshing read because of its interesting take.
Being able to experience it as a manga release and read these chapters all over again has further solidified just how amazing Solo Leveling is and I’m looking forward to collecting the complete series, especially after seeing and reading Volume 1. Solo Leveling, Volume 1 just released on March 2, 2021 and you can pick it up now on sites like RightStuf and Amazon!