Chugong's Solo Leveling is easily one of the biggest South Korean multimedia franchises out right now. Starting back in 2016, the franchise has jumped from medium to medium and has only increased in popularity. With the rise of Webtoon and Korean media in general in the last several years, the series is well overdue for a full-on anime adaptation.
This would fit the model of recent anime adaptations like Tower of God and The God of High School, which were based on Korean manhwa. Likewise, there are several planned adaptations of the series in other venues, in both live-action and video games.
What Is Solo Leveling?
The series began as a web novel before transitioning into a Webtoon on KakaoPage. This Webtoon has had two seasons so far, culminating in three collected volumes. The story is based around a young hunter named Sung Jin-Woo, who is a member of the weakest rank of hunters in all of South Korea. Their quarry is the monsters that have begun invading the human world after a portal connected it to their own. This event gifts many people with superhuman powers, though Sung is barely stronger than a normal person.
He and his group eventually fall into a cavern where almost all of their number, including Sung, die. He's later revived, however, and discovers that he's developed almost video game-like abilities. These allow him to see quests and abilities, as well as the health and stats of himself and others. This reignites his ambition to set out and become the greatest monster hunter of them all, all while uncovering the mystery behind the creatures themselves.
Why Anime Is Solo Leveling's Next Step
An animated version of the series logically should have been the next step after the manhwa became so popular. After all, there's a lot more freedom and ability to accurately portray the source material in animation than in live-action, at least where budget is concerned. Anticipation and demand for such a show couldn't be higher, as shown in recent fan polls. AnimeJapan 2021 recently ran a poll asking participants what manga or similar Asian comic they wanted to see adapted into an anime the most. Solo Leveling came in second. It's also been announced via Korean sources that the series is not only getting a video game, but also a live-action drama adaptation.
There are many similarities between the series and other prominent franchises. The idea of gigantic monsters coming out of nowhere and putting humanity up against the wall has some parallels Monster Hunter and Attack on Titan, while the vague video game elements recall the RPG motifs of many isekai stories.
The series is now in a position to reach a wider audience than ever before, as its initial light novel has been translated and released in English. This gives English-speaking fans who've yet to read the manhwa to see where the franchise got its start, as well as hype up the manhwa's print release. Once the other planned adaptations finally debut, the series will hopefully be in an even better position popularity-wise to finally receive the anime it needs to go completely mainstream.