Solo Leveling – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review

I’m Used To It 

Episode 1 of Solo Leveling starts 3 years ago with a navy officer asking his captain why they’re not participating in the current fight. The captain tells the officer that it’s best to let the “hunters” handle it.

We then shift to several low-rank hunters battling an army of large ants. The ants overpower them, but the S-Rank hunters arrive and support them. Elsewhere, Guildmaster Choi and his men combat a different army of ants. 

It’s here we learn more about this universe’s origins. 10 years ago, several gates appeared that linked the human world with an alternate dimension. Behind each gate lay bizarre creatures called “magic beasts” who are immune to standard human weapons.

Humans with awakened abilities called “hunters” are assigned to fight them. They’re ranked from S to E based on their magic power. Hunters cannot achieve greater strength once they’ve awakened their powers.

Three years later, two men named Park and Kim catch up on life. Kim wonders why Park is still participating in raids, and Park says he wants to make money to provide for his family. Suddenly, Solo Leveling’s protagonist Sung Jinwoo arrives and Kim greets him. Kim tells Park Sung is one of the weakest hunters of all time and if Sung’s ever tackling a raid, it’s likely an easy one.

Sung meets a fellow hunter named Joohee, who questions why he’s scuffed up. Sung details his experience with an E-rank dungeon. Although S-Rank hunters accompanied him, they didn’t think to bring a healer along for the raid. Joohee thinks it was a selfish choice on the S-Rank hunters’ part, but Sung says he’s used to being treated poorly because he’s weak. Joohee and Sung attend a raid meeting held by their leader Song Chiyul.

After greeting his fellow hunters, Song, Sung, and the others travel through a gate. Elsewhere, a man greets Chairman Go and discusses how things went with his meeting with the “administration.” Go says the administrators are concerned about”dungeon breaks.” However, they want the hunters to continue collecting valuable items inside every dungeon. Go thinks it’s logical, considering hunters make a living by selling the resources they find.

He shows his comrade an essence stone, which is something hunters collect from magic beasts they defeat. We shift to Sung’s perspective. He’s having trouble defending himself against the dungeon’s magic beasts. Park saves Sung and says he plans to confront this dungeon’s other magic beasts. He asks Joohee to look after Sung. We return to Go and his comrade discussing the essence stones more.

He says the essence stones can be turned into powerful weapons and gear. Additionally, hunters may encounter mana crystals that have similar applications, but Go says they’re less potent. Further, Go says the government wants to use these items for more efficient purposes. He says the government is working on a way to generate electricity using essence stones and mana crystals to produce an ideal clean energy source for the world. 

Meanwhile, Song and the other hunters defeat the dungeon’s boss and celebrate. As Sung watches on, Joohee feels Sung shouldn’t continue pursuing the hunter lifestyle and reminds him about the injuries he’s sustained during this expedition. Sung apologizes and wishes he could have achieved more than a mere E-Rank essence stone. Several hunters discover a cave and wonder if this will lead to another dungeon. 

Song suggests they wait to hear from the Hunter’s Association before tackling this second dungeon. However, Park feels it should be safe since it’s connected to a D-Rank dungeon. Song asks everyone to vote on whether they should proceed or concede.

Six hunters say yes while the other half say no, leaving Sung to decide for the group. Since Sung’s family is in a rut (so far), he tells Song they should proceed. Elsewhere, we see an agent and Choi discuss matters involving one B-Rank hunter and two C-Rank hunters. 

Choi’s happy to hear this news and tells the agent to make them an offer if they seem like an asset to him. However, he feels these hunters won’t compare to Cha Hae-in, an S-Rank hunter. After witnessing Cha Hae-in stop two thieves, we shift to Sung and the others who are on their way to fight the second dungeon’s boss.

Joohee’s frustrated with Sung because of his decision. Our hunters arrive at the dungeon boss’s chambers and we cut to Go virtually greeting several newly awakened hunters. 

He discusses their world’s history from the gates to the dungeons that lay behind them. Additionally, he knows some will choose the hunter path while others will opt out. He tells the aspiring hunters that it’s best to act cautiously and to be fearful of each raid they partake in.

Song, Sung, and the others enter the dungeon and notice that it looks different than the previous one they conquered. Someone informs Song about an ancient scripture and Song reads it line by line. 

Meanwhile, Joohee’s cautious about one of the dungeon’s statues. Once Song finishes reading the scripture, the entrance door closes. One of the hunters attempts to leave but gets murdered minutes later by one of the dungeon’s statues.

Everyone’s concerned about the statues, including Sung who is worried about the statue that caught Joohee’s attention. Sung reflects on his prior dungeon-raiding experiences with fellow hunters. 

He states how the other hunters would walk away with better experiences than himself. Despite his poor occasions with dungeons, Sung says he developed a keen eye for detail concerning opportunities and dangerous scenarios.

The statue shoots a laser from its eye and annihilates a few hunters in the process. The episode then closes with Sung questioning if he and his allies will escape this place with their lives intact. 

The Episode Review

With a new anime season, comes more fantasy shows for fans to watch. Solo Leveling happens to be many fans’ most anticipated anime this season due to how beloved the webtoon/manhwa is. This episode had great animation. It wonderfully introduced several characters for audiences to enjoy with Sung, Joohee, and Go feeling like standouts (so far). 

Additionally, fans will appreciate receiving intel about this world’s structure from its different hunter ranks to the rewards they can obtain from their expeditions. Moreover, this episode fleshes out Sung’s character appropriately. From his underdog persona to his family-related problems, fans have various reasons to root for him. 

Episode one’s conclusion, while predictable (to a degree), was thrilling to sit through. It’ll leave audiences on the edge of their seats. The ending will encourage fans to discuss ways Sung and his allies can survive. Hopefully, the resolution we receive in episode two is genuine, memorable, and impactful. 


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You can read our Season 1 Review of Solo Leveling here!


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