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REVIEW: Solo Leveling Episode 7

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There are two realities hiding within Solo Leveling. One is that sold by guilds who form strike teams to take advantage of the loot from dungeons. The other are the dangers that lurk in the dark and prey on low-ranked hunters. Jin-woo Sung’s battle with the Giant Arachnid Buryura in Episode 6 was just part of the risk hunters take daily. But the following standoff between him and the traitorous Lizards opened his eyes to the blood-soaked path he has to take if he wants to become the strongest. Jin-woo now has to decide the type of man he wants to become, and not just worry about raising his rank.




Solo Leveling Episode 7 is titled “Let’s See How Far I Can Go.” This title is not just a placeholder. Rather, it’s an actual cry for war, as Jin-woo realizes that the System is his ally. All he has to do is complete its missions to keep getting stronger. With the series being directed by Shunsuke Nakashige and composed by Noboru Kimura, Yuya Horiuchi takes charge of Episode 7 alongside scriptwriter Shigeru Murakoshi and music composer Hiroyuki Sawano. Taito Ban returns as E-ranked hunter Jin-woo Sung, Haruna Mikawa plays his sister, Jin-ah Sung, Makoto Furukawa is Jin-chul Woo, and veteran voice actor Junichi Suwabe makes his first appearance as S-rank hunter Dong-soo Hwang. A-1 Pictures is, once again, the animation studio keeping up the blast from the previous episode.



Solo Leveling Episode 7 Embraced Its Video Game Roots

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In reality, gamers are exempt from the consequences of their in-game character’s actions. However, these choices are still theirs to make, which turns the game’s trajectory into the gamer’s responsibility. Solo Leveling pushed this detachment to a dangerous extreme through Jin-woo’s story. Jin-woo is slowly growing into his role as a hunter the more he rises through the ranks. He’s also taking a more active approach to the choices he makes, and the fights he picks. But, technically, he is still very much a gamer, as seen in his relationship with the System. From mechanics like rewards for daily task completion to stat bonuses for passive activation of skills, Solo Leveling‘s mysterious System works exactly as most MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) do in reality. In MMORPGs, players take the driver’s seat and put every accumulated point they earned into buffing themselves up. Gamers may not be able to control what happens in the MMORPG, but they decide how exactly they level up. Solo Leveling Episode 7 dutifully followed this gaming logic by dedicating a good chunk of its time toward unlocking the potential facets of Jin-woo’s skill tree. It even got to the point where the episode’s plot became inseparable from real-world gaming philosophies. This, in turn, made Jin-woo view his choices through a holographic notification screen. For better and worse, he reduced his opponents to mere points and statistics on a menu. Such a myopic and utilitarian vision can bring more harm than good, for the world is rife with variables that not even Jin-woo can account for.


One of the consequences he could be facing soon is the aftermath of Dong-suk Hwang’s death by his hands. Solo Leveling Episode 7 started with this particularly pressing matter. A file with Jin-woo’s name on it came to Jin-chul Woo’s desk. Soon enough, Dong-suk’s brother, Dong-soo Hwang, appeared and vowed to rain violence on his sibling’s killers. The ramifications of Jin-woo’s actions are slowly taking shape, giving the anime an ominous sense of foreboding. Despite the coming darkness, Episode 7 had a generally lighthearted tone on account of Jin-woo’s laid-back attitude. Much of its runtime went towards revealing the System’s new mechanics, and the gifts it bestowed on its users. The episode felt more like a tutorial than an exposition dump. This was a fun way of introducing audiences, especially those with an affinity for gaming, to more of Jin-woo’s new powers. But it also disarmed unsuspecting viewers with snippets of wholesome family time between Jin-woo and his sister, Jin-ah. Most viewers did not expect the episode’s plot to turn on its head, and leave nothing but violence in its wake. Solo Leveling Episode 7’s last few minutes were a mix of a pure adrenaline rush and spectacular action that made its long build-up worth the wait.


Jin-Woo Sung Realized That He Still Has Miles To Go

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Solo Leveling Episode 7’s tranquil start helped Jin-woo Sung explore the limits of his powers’ accessibility. Despite revealing a lot about itself, the System remains as much a mystery to the audience as it does for Jin-woo. He often came across new skills after defeating enemies who were way out of his league. The same happened in Episode 7, but it did not end there. As Jin-woo’s confidence rose, his inquisitiveness also got a boost. He spent a good part of his day’s first half fiddling through the magical program. A character’s growth starts when they begin looking inwards. Jin-woo is already on his way there, doubling down on his efforts once he notices he can go beyond his predetermined skill caps.


At the same time, he was not completely lost in his own mind. Sparks of his old personality reared their heads here and there, mostly when he is around his sister. He continues to love and support her however he can. But there is also his brooding and self-serious personality that he’s slowly growing into, especially when it comes down to hunter business. Still, Jin-woo is not a complex character. He only wants to see where his abilities can take him. This, however, is exactly how he finds himself in trouble. Only his newfound determination and unnatural survival instinct can help him now.


With most of Solo Leveling Episode 7 focusing on Jin-woo, Taito Ban’s voice acting was thrust into the narrative’s front and center. Since the protagonist’s transformation, Ban has been working overtime to bring intensity to the role. His tone was calmer this time, as Jin-woo conversed internally at length while trying to understand the changes he went through. His self-examination came out as a soliloquy that puts his inner strife into words. Jin-woo may have become a more assertive and action-oriented person, but he is still very much the same man he was at the start of the show. Despite everything, he’s still thoughtful about his family, and always strategizes how to survive the next battle. Ban kept this side of Jin-woo in mind while voicing him, making himself sound deeper as if to emphasize Jin-woo’s growing stoicism. The battle at the episode’s end was where Ban truly shined as a voice actor. He exerted himself to mimic Jin-woo’s physical toll, painting a bleak picture of his ordeal. There was a hint of desperation in his voice that made his scenes tense to watch. Haruna Mikawa is the only other top-billed actor in the episode to enjoy as much screen time as Ban. As Jin-ah, she used her screentime to voice her concerns and make fun of her brother. This brought a bit of levity to an erstwhile protagonist-centric episode.


Jin-Woo Sung’s Fight Against the Cerberus Is Peak Action Animation

Jin-woo Sung faces a Cerberus in Solo Leveling

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It would be dishonest to say that Solo Leveling Episode 7’s animation did not do much in the first half, other than portray the characters’ changing emotions. The episode’s structure pushed all conversations and expositions to the top of the narrative, and saved the good bone-crushing action for its latter half. Like Solo Leveling’s preceding episodes, Episode 7 placed a soft glow around its characters, and it had a penchant for urban settings. Indoor scenes are spacious and clean-cut, filled with everything that can make one differentiate an office from a cafeteria. But too much rigid line art made the background look stiff. Luckily, the outdoor scenes set in the greenery brought a much-needed change of scenery.


The real test for the episode’s animation started right after the halfway mark, specifically when Jin-woo entered an S-rank dungeon guarded by the A-ranked Cerberus. Immediately, the stakes became higher than ever. A-1 Picture did some of its best work to date on Solo Leveling Episode 7. The lighting for the fire effects was especially eye-catching, but did not take away from the main event. From fire and smoke swirling around the characters to the CGI graphics adding a variety of effects, it was the speed with which each frame moved that will make viewers get on the edge of their seats.

Solo Leveling Episode 7 Pushed Jin-Woo to New Heights

Jin-woo prepares to stab his enemy in Solo Leveling


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There’s an old adage that goes “All’s well that ends well.” Solo Leveling Episode 7 echoed this exact sentiment. For an episode that started off slow and made viewers wait what felt like a lifetime for any hint of action, it sure went all-out in its final moments, as if to make amends. Once again, Solo Leveling focused on its protagonist’s growth as a fighter and a person. He even got a well-deserved breather to contemplate his life goals. Jin-woo always tried to make the best of the situation at hand. Now with the System’s backing, his focus shifted from mere survival to making life better for his family as well as himself. He finally vowed to reach the top with his own strength. Episode 7 was a teaching moment that stopped Jin-woo from becoming too arrogant and selfish. But, more importantly, it also gave him the kind of hope that could make anyone go mad or desperate.


Solo Leveling is now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Jin-Woo Sung and Other Warriors Pose on the Solo Leveling Promo

Solo Leveling Episode 7

Episode 7 may hold off on the thrill for the last, but its idyllic opening gives Jin-woo the brother-sister bonding time the character sorely needs.

Pros

  • Jin-woo Sung’s exploration of his powers is intriguing.
  • Intense action gives a satisfactory ending to the episode.
Cons

  • Uneven pacing makes for a boring start.
  • Not much plot progression.
  • The focus on the lead starves other characters of development.



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