Solo Leveling’s Epic & Controversial Finale, Explained

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Solo Leveling Chapter 179 by Chugong, Dubu and h-goon, available in English now on Tappytoon.

After three years, Solo Leveling, the webtoon that took the world by storm with its epic action sequences and fantastic artwork, has ended with 179 chapters. A story about the journey of a weak Hunter who later on became the greatest Hunter in the world, Jinwoo has fought everything imaginable from knights to orcs. In this finale, he faced one of his toughest battles yet. Unwilling to allow more people to die, Jinwoo stood alone, along with his powerful shadow army, against Antares, the Monarch of Destruction.

While many found the webtoon's ending to be satisfactory, it has left some fans a little conflicted -- as endings often do. Nonetheless, Solo Leveling had a legion of fans who followed Jinwoo every step of the way. And, now, it's time to say goodbye to the hero.

Jinwoo's Fight Against Antares

solo leveling jinwoo shadow armour

Using Kamish's rune stone, Jinwoo utilized the Dragon's Fearsome Roar to lure Antares to a deserted island in Japan alone, away from everyone else. Monarch versus Monarch; shadow army versus an army of dragons. For a moment, Jinwoo was able to hold his own, but Antares quickly forced Jinwoo into a corner and made him an offer.

He would spare Korea and disappear if the two of them worked together to destroy the Rulers. However, Jinwoo saw through his lies and knew that Antares wouldn't hesitate to kill him if given the chance. Immediately, Antares transformed into an enormous dragon and resumed attacking. Because Jinwoo's dagger wasn't able to penetrate his thick armor, he decided that he needed to create his own armor -- out of darkness and shadows.

It was a symbolic moment to see flashes of Ashborn, Jinwoo's father, and Jinwoo's past self while he landed the final blow against Antares, using the same dagger that his father used. Jinwoo bought enough time for the Rulers' army to make their entrance. Although the fight panels between Jinwoo and Antares had some of the best artwork in the webtoon, the glory was diminished with the Rulers coming in at the last moment deus ex machina and killing Antares in one simple jab. The moment rendered Jinwoo's efforts pointless.

The Classic Time Travel Trope

solo leveling jinwoo fights antares again

One of the reasons why fans have been split on the ending is Jinwoo's decision to use the Cup of Reincarnation. Although the Rulers thanked him for saving humankind, Jinwoo wasn't satisfied. Sure, Antares was gone, but there were still a few Monarchs remaining. More importantly, he had lost many people he cared about: his father and Adam being his most recent losses, not to mention the trauma that his sister endured from her time at the school. Although he outwardly didn't show it, these deaths had a significant impact on him, which is why he wanted to go back in time to save them all, in classic shonen anime fashion.

The Cup of Reincarnation would turn back time, bringing back the Monarchs who died including Antares, keeping their memories intact. Jinwoo shut himself up in the dimension gap with the remaining shadows who would still exist in the past, which meant shadows like Iron and Greed could not fight alongside him anymore. The Cup activated and Jinwoo returned to his middle school days.

Jinwoo beat all of the Monarchs and met with Antares once again. However, the webtoon didn't delve into detail as to how their fight went, which was a little disappointing but unsurprising. On one hand, Solo Leveling had already given fans a pretty epic fight in the previous chapters and a second fight would feel redundant. On the other hand, it's unlikely the Rulers would step in a second time so the battle between Jinwoo and Antares would have been more spectacular.

The Rulers' Hypocrisy

solo leveling jinwoo angry

Two years passed in the real world even though, in the dimensional gap, Jinwoo had been fighting for 27 years. It's safe to say that not only did Jinwoo save humankind, he also saved the Rulers. If it weren't for him, the Rulers would have found themselves put into a corner as the Monarchs grew stronger. What's more, Jinwoo even chose to turn back time so he could kill all of the Monarchs by himself and restore peace.

But the Rulers had other opinions. Ever since Norma Selner came into contact with the other world, her ability to tell the future accurately had heightened and the Rulers panicked when they heard that the god of death would return with his army. They knew that they wouldn't stand a chance against Jinwoo so they gave him two choices: move away from Earth or get sealed away. It is entirely hypocritical of them and makes them no different than the Monarchs who tried to get rid of Ashborn because they feared his overwhelming power.

Solo Leveling's Bittersweet Ending

The Cup of Reincarnation not only turned back time, but it also erased Jinwoo from everyone's memories. Nobody would ever remember all of the sacrifices he made to save the world. All of the friends and allies that he made would no longer remember who he was.

It's a little bittersweet to see Jinwoo reunite with his family and have a very brief respite. When he confessed that it feels like he had a nightmare, there was a hint of yearning in his voice because as strong as Jinwoo is, all he wants is to be a normal kid. There was a sense of vulnerability in Jinwoo's monologue as he seemed to plead with himself that putting off the battle with the Monarchs for a little while longer wouldn't hurt anyone.

Throughout Solo Leveling, Jinwoo has leveled up and gotten stronger because he had a purpose, which was to protect everyone. Although he was angry at the Rulers, he began to question his existence: With his job now done, is he even needed anymore? Maybe he didn't need a grand, heroic reason to stay -- maybe the reason could be as simple as wanting to live with those he loved.

Ash and Pikachu JPG
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