Manhwa are Korean comics that are often full color, and have been popularized through online publishing services like Webtoon. The stylization of manhwa is characterized by its detail in both the backgrounds and the character design. Despite the richness in source material, adaptations of manhwa were practically unheard of until recent years.
Over time, many long-running manhwa have attracted large fanbases, which has caught the attention of the anime industry. The recent adaptations of classic manhwa like Tower Of God and The God Of High School are an indication of changing times. Because of how much time these series have had to accumulate a following, anime adaptations of manhwa come with the additional risk of being viewed as underwhelming if it doesn’t meet viewer expectations. Since manhwa are generally less known than manga, not many manhwa have had the opportunity to be considered for adaptation. In recent years, that has been changing.
Solo Leveling Has Attracted A Cult Following
Solo Leveling is set in a world where ‘Gates’ connecting the human world to monster-infested realms have started opening randomly. Because of this, humans with magic abilities — known as Hunters — have gained the ability to enter these Gates to battle deadly monsters. Hunters have rankings indicating their capabilities, and as an E-Level Hunter, Sung Jin-Woo is considered the weakest of them all. During one such expedition into a D-Level Dungeon that turned deadly, he escaped from the jaws of death with a newfound ability to continuously grow his powers
Originally released as a Korean web novel on Kakaopage in 2016 it was soon adapted into a webtoon series in 2018. Known for its extensive detail to action scenes and the satisfying growth of its protagonist, Solo Leveling quickly became a textbook example of a good action fantasy series. Over the years, it has accumulated a huge following, with sales of both the webnovel and the webtoon exceeding thirty million on Kakaopage. Fans have long been awaiting an anime adaptation and on July 4, 2022, Crunchyroll released the trailer for the Solo Leveling anime set to be released in 2023. The adaptation will be produced by A-1 Pictures, known for other series like Your Lie In April and Sword Art Onlinefans are hopeful that it lives up to the fame of the original.
What This Means For Other Manhwa
Manhwa used to be relatively unknown in comparison to its massively more popular Japanese counterpart. But now, viewers are seeing an upward trend of anime being adapted from manhwa. So far, most of the adaptations have been based off of popular action or fantasy manhwa, as those are more likely to attract a wider audience.
The announcement of the Solo Leveling anime seems to have sparked an incentive to dive into the potential of Korean manhwa. Viewers are beginning to see manhwa that are more niche gain recognition. The announcement of an anime adaptation based on the manhwa Why Raeliana Ended Up At The Duke’s Mansion is a prime example of the shift towards manhwa.
After remaining under the radar for so long, manhwas are finally beginning to get the recognition they deserve. Solo Leveling may not be the first of its kind to receive an anime adaptation, but it certainly marks the beginning of what’s to come.