Solo Leveling Volume 5 Review
In a world where dungeons appear, humans start ‘awakening’ (developing powers) and get ranked on their power level to see which dungeons they can clear. Jinwoo is an E-rank hunter, one of the lowest possible. However, a mysterious accident in a dungeon gives him a second awakening, and Jinwoo is keeping this a secret. You see, there is something different about him compared to other high-rank hunters: his power can increase with training (I’ll let you read the series to see what kind of training).
But the cat is out of the bag. The Korean Hunters Association knows he has been reawakened as an S-rank hunter, the highest rank possible, and it won’t be long before the whole world knows it. S-rank hunters who are also heads of hunter guilds, organisations that take care of clearing the dungeons, are already offering him membership. But Jinwoo is planning to make his own way as a hunter.
In Volume 5, we find Jinwoo after his re-evaluation as an S-rank. He has three days of freedom before his new rank gets announced to the public, and he doesn’t want to waste them. He joins a dungeon raid as a miner to collect objects, but when the party is in danger, Jinwoo can’t stay back and watch the hunters getting massacred… His new rank might be revealed earlier than he had planned.
This whole series is full of action, and this volume didn’t disappoint either. The story captures you from page one, and it doesn’t let you go. There is so much going on that you can’t avoid absorbing everything that’s happening. Moreover, even before a scene ends, there is already something else going on. But the authors like to tease us. They drop hints here and there for future story arcs, and you can’t help but wonder what will happen. Is that guy really Jinwoo’s father? Why is there a giant flying ant attacking humans? When you think you’ve finally got something, there is something else making you rethink everything. There is still a lot we don’t know about this series, from the characters to the beings inside the dungeons, but the more we read, the more we get a clearer picture of what is going on.
I wouldn’t recommend this series to anyone who is averse to fighting and gore, as there will be plenty of both in each volume. And the more Jinwoo’s power is raised, the more he has to fight to defeat his enemies. We don’t know yet who they are, but we can’t avoid cheering for Jinwoo anyway. His power is also something that no one has ever seen. He can resuscitate the beings killed in dungeons as shadows and make them become part of his army. So far Jinwoo is the good guy, so fingers crossed it stays that way. Although if he ever becomes the villain, I’m still going to cheer for him.
The cover art is simple but effective. Each cover depicts Jinwoo or a hunter he encounters, and there are no special finishes on it. However, when you open the manhwa, the illustrations are amazing. They are so detailed and even without the dialogue you would be able to understand what is going on.
Although Jinwoo is the protagonist, we get to know more about his friends and family through each volume in the series. He has a sidekick, Jinho, who comes from a rich family. He’s been trying to recruit Jinwoo to his guild for a while unsuccessfully, but he admires Jinwoo so much that he’s willing to follow him anywhere. Jinwoo also has a younger sister whom he wishes to protect. After their father’s disappearance and their mother’s comatose state, they can only count on each other.
I’ve been obsessing over this series since it first released back in 2021, awaiting impatiently for the next volume to be released. The story and the illustrations are addictive so that when you first open the manwha till the last page, it’s impossible to put down. The readers get transported into the story, and it seems as if we are there with the characters. Each character is also well-developed, and you can’t help but be intrigued to see if they are the ‘bad’ or ‘good’ guys. There are so many twists that even with the manga closed, you can’t stop thinking over and over again how the situation will turn out and what Jinwoo will do.
Solo Leveling, originally released as a webcomic on TappyToon, is written by Chugong and illustrated by DUBU (Redice Studio). Volume 5 was released in September 2022 by Yen Press with an English translation by Hye Young Im. Volume 6 is scheduled to be released in March 2023. A light novel of the manhwa is also available, and its anime adaptation is coming to Crunchyroll in 2023.