Mugen Monday - Nineteenth Edition

For Those Who Dare Dream.

It hasn’t begun yet, but it is my assumption that soon the world of Manhwa shall find meaningful Anime adaptations, incorporated into the larger pool of Anime originating from Japan.

Manhwa, which is a manga equivalent in Korea, is quite different from its Japanese cousin. Not only are Manhwas coloured, but they also seem to contain an art style that’s quite nostalgic and yet different from most traditional Anime art ways.

Today, we take it upon ourselves, as the branch of Spiel dedicated towards Anime, to talk a little Manhwa. Especially with the new Solo Leveling Anime on the horizon - which has truth be told gone through some horrendously radical changes. Mind you, horrendous is not exactly a negative connotation.

For all things concerned, the positive-negative judgement is quite up to the masses. Simply put - the production behind Solo Leveling has decided to change all the cultural contexts of the source itself. From Korea, the entire plot will now revolve in a Japanese context.

A glimpse of Solo Leveling, courtesy of Naver/Webtoon

The reasons for this range in quite many, the particulars of which I shall discuss below. But one thing is quite a question worth asking - is changing the cultural context of a source just because it involved an interpretation of the adapting country (in this case Japan) which was negative? We’ll dive all into it.

For the uninitiated, Solo Leveling is one of the most mass-appreciated Korean Manhwa out there, with its source originally being a light novel. Since before the hype of Anime, Solo Leveling climbed the manhwa hierarchy, easily overwhelming not only the rather unreached to west people who got their new-found dose of coloured Manga (Manhwa).

Will Solo Leveling Anime live up to the source material? It’s a question we shall discuss. Hang tight.

For Those Who Dare Dream

- From the Editor’s Desk

Rhytham Das, Editor-in-Chief, Spiel Anime

Will Solo Leveling live up to its source?

Solo Leveling has easily been one of the finest Manhwa to exist to date, although, on a personal level, I would concur that the Manhwa regresses disastrously towards the end. One of the key things that drove it initially, (which drove it to such a level that the drive overstayed even after the plot left its original attraction) was the powering mechanics.

What is Solo Leveling tho?

Your run-of-the-mill hunter in a world manifested by dungeons gets himself an insane ‘Game Menu’ after getting himself into some SSS-level secret hidden boss in a dungeon that was originally evaluated easy. This hunter, who was your average powerless fella, quickly turns into one of the most badass characters in Manhwa universes.

Why did Solo Leveling work so well for such a large audience?

Sung Jin-Woo has won many hearts, although at one point the series (the source) really drives a lot of its plot from the overpowering element. In my years of experience with fiction, overpowered levelling trope only works because it attaches some meaning to the audiences’ inner drive for growth.

We all fantasize about beating up our high school bullies or becoming that cool dude who saves his school from a fictional terrorist shootout.

Yet much of the overpowering troped Manhwas tries to attest to that internal feeling. And I would state, much with my confidence, that perhaps the author too is keen on finishing a similar level of fantasy by even creating such fiction.

My point is, that Solo Levelling does degrade towards the end. At one point (minor spoiler alert) - the protagonist even gets a skill that allows him to judge a person’s sin level, and then proceeds to murder some criminals with high ratings.

I have no comments on the moral aspect of that, as I believe judging a fiction based on societal morals is not an efficient critique of the art, but the lazy writing in which the author felt that the hero killing villains without a sin meter would go bad with the fans, was kinda eeh.

Again as I said, the manhwa goes so much of the OP thing, towards the end, we kind of lose any sense of meaning or anticipation with our hero. For the majority of the beginning, the main attraction is Sung jin-woo’s ridiculous growth.

But once it gets to the point that he has no challenge at all, the series does lose what kept it going originally. It just then overburns a fuel that’s already been used for too long.

What does it mean for an adaptation to live up to its source?

The question of whether Solo Leveling Anime can live up to the source or not is quite troubling.

Well, Anime is making everything Japan. One of the rumours is that because of the Jeju Island arc in the Manhwa (in which Japanese hunters are portrayed in a negative light), the anime decided to change things altogether.

Even that was alright, but changing the names of the original characters to Japanese - that’s, well, I don’t know. Do we judge an adaptation because it changed minor things like names?

One of my English professors in college used to describe what a good adaptation is. If it is 100 per cent faithful to the source, then it’s the same thing. If it’s too different, then is it even an adaptation? He felt that an adaptation strikes a good balance between that which is original and new things that could be played with.

If Japan does it right, putting aside the cultural context of Japanese nationalism, if the plot itself is mingled with in a way that it drives out the insane quality of the initial plot and handles the ending in a way that doesn’t lose its source juice, then Solo Leveling Anime has more than enough potential to be better.

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