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Solo Leveling Episode 8 is Filler

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The following contains spoilers for Solo Leveling Episode 8, “This Is Frustrating.”



It was not too long ago when Solo Leveling‘s infamous Double Dungeon incident turned the lives of many survivors upside down, leaving them with deep-seated regret and trauma. Everyone felt like they lost a part of themselves behind the doors of the Cartenon Temple. This included Jin-woo Sung, who unexpectedly came out with a second wind. Neither team leader Chi-yul Song nor B-rank healer Joo-hee Lee or the others stepped into another dungeon, leaving them to contemplate their life’s heading The anime is now at a juncture where the old characters are up for a much-anticipated reunion. Only time will tell whether it will be as disastrous as the last time they were in the same room together or not.



Directed by Hiromu Oshiro and scripted by Shunsuke Nakashige, Solo Leveling Episode 8, “This Is Frustrating,” comes after a week-long hiatus. Nakashige also serves as the series director, alongside Noboru Kimura as the series composer and Hiroyuki Sawano of Attack on Titan fame as the music composer. A-1 Pictures remains the animators behind the episode, taking things slower than usual. The episode continued to showcase the voice acting of Taito Ban in the lead as E-rank hunter Jin-woo Sung, Eiji Hanawa as Chi-yul Song, Rina Honnizumi as Joo-hee Lee, Genta Nakamura as Jin-ho Yoo, and introducing as Koki Uchiyama as Tae-shik Kang, an inspector under the Korean Hunters Association.


Solo Leveling Episode 8 Focused on the World Building

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Solo Leveling began as a world where interdimensional monsters could overwhelm an army of Hunters. The Hunters’ magical abilities fell abysmally short of their opponent’s sheer strength and numbers. At the time, the anime painted this invasion as a great threat, with the first dungeon turning out to be the worst example of the lot. Leaving behind the overarching story of a collective human struggle, Solo Leveling lived up to its name when it explored the evolution of its protagonist, Jin-woo Sung, in great detail. He grew from being known as “The Weakest Hunter” to one clamoring for the top spot, no matter the cost. But it’s finally time for the world building to catch up to Jin-woo’s story. However, the anime focused so much on Jin-woo that everything and everyone around him became afterthoughts. To that end, Episode 8 broke from the anime’s usual formula. This time, it gave every major player on the board a chance to shine. While Jin-woo remained self-absorbed in his System, his former teammates, Joo-hee and Chi-yul, were shown to be still reeling from the trauma of the Double Dungeon. They’re even thinking of leaving their hunting days behind. As the anime prepares for a cast reunion, Guild leaders met to address the disastrous assault on Jeju Island. All these scenes seemed like disparate snippets sewn together. When combined, they created a disjointed effort at storytelling that moves ever so slowly.


Bureaucracy played a big role in Solo Leveling Episode 8. Jin-ho Yoo and his father’s company, Yoojin Construction, made waves throughout the episode as they saw dungeon hunting as the perfect opportunity to establish their own guild and poach a superstar S-rank as their Guild Master. But they have no altruistic purpose or reason. Their actions were driven by money-making motives. They wanted to mine the resources inside the dungeon that Yoojin thought would be the source of the next clean energy race. The behind-the-scenes politics provided exposition into the world’s current standing since the otherworldly portals first appeared. Once again, it is a subtle nod to South Korea’s powerful Chaebol Conglomerate, which controls the country’s industrial ebbs and flows. However, it is not just industrialists looking at ways to control the future. The guilds are also hell-bent on drumming up public support for their next endeavors. But the difference in their power plays lies in their goals. This gave the hunters better optics by default. Still, Episode 8’s insistence on dragging every scene out encroachesd on its already short runtime. For what it’s worth, giving a comprehensive update on everyone’s lives up to this point created an emotional ambiance. But the episode’s overall monotonous pace hardly worked in favor of the plot.


Solo Leveling Episode 8 Gave the Supporting Characters Their Due

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Solo Leveling Episode 8’s slow pace and reduced focus on Jin-woo have their advantages. Characters who previously never told their sides of the story now get a chance to unburden themselves. One of them is Sang-shik Kim, a survivor of the Cartenon Temple who left Jin-woo behind. His conversations with his worried wife slowly unraveled his trepidation. His scene turned increasingly morose, with the shadow of the Double Dungeon incident looming over his head. Interactions like these made up most of Episode 8. It also deepened people’s changing views about escapism and the world they lived in. Any romanticized views of dungeon crawling they once held were ruthlessly shattered.


However, Episode 8 also felt crowded due to the sheer number of side characters it highlighted. Characters often turned up suddenly and struck up conversations even before the previous scene finished making an impression. Although dialogues are the building blocks of Solo Leveling’s world, Episode 8’s pacing made it grueling to jump from one parallel narrative to the next. Be it in the hunters’ discussions about preparing to face new dangers or characters talking about how someone’s checkered past could endanger the peace, viewers can sense the rising tension brewing underneath. It only got more ominous when Jin-woo found himself amidst his old comrades and new troubles.


With the number of characters gracing the screen in Episode 8, the voice actors have their work cut out for them. From Daisuke Hirakawa and Hiroki Tochi portraying themselves as Guild Masters who shared the same sentiment with a hint of rivalry to Genta Nakamura giving Jin-ho Yoo a nervously optimistic energy, the episode’s voice work brought a touch of realism to the anime. This stood in stark contrast to the video game-styled capers and line delivery of Solo Leveling’s previous episodes. Taito Ban got less attention than usual. Thankfully, this did not impede him from giving a cold performance due to Jin-woo’s polarizing lack of emotions or sympathy. The episode focused on the survivors of Cartenon Temple and their trauma, not Jin-woo’s power fantasy. Ban’s reduced presence and detachment from the cast made sense.


It would not be wrong to call Kim Sangshik a forgotten character who seemed heartless to leave Jin-woo behind. However, his voice actor, Manta Yamamoto, made him sympathetic. Yamamoto let audiences feel the pain in Sang-shik’s voice. Similarly, Eiji Hanawa, who plays Chi-yul Song, showed his character’s humble side. His tone was wise like a teacher should be, yet apologetic about a past he cannot run from. Despite such a stacked roster, Rina Honnizumi stole the episode as Lee Joohee. Lee’s outbursts were unpredictable, but not out of order. Honnizumi’s emotional performance will catch viewers off-guard, as she displays the pain Lee has been hiding this whole time. However, both she and Hae-In Cha—the only two prominent female characters in Solo Leveling thus far—don’t seem to have any direction with the plot. This is currently one of the episode’s and anime’s few glaring disappointments.

Solo Leveling Episode 8 Didn’t Give A-1 Picture’s Animation a Moment To Shine

Sung Jin-Woo is surprised to see his old party in Solo Leveling


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Solo Leveling has, thus far, not disappointed its fanbase when it came to animation. Almost every episode had an explosive monster fight with Jin-woo at the center. Episode 8, however, is one of those rare occasions that lacked any such spectacle. Instead of Jin-woo’s epic life-or-death battles, Episode 8 dedicated most of its runtime to the supporting cast. It also focused more on their drama and relationships than action or terror. Episode 8 indulged in showcasing its character art in colorful ways. A-1 Pictures did a great job of bringing the original webtoon’s key style over to the anime. The animators also threw urban architecture into the mix, and made the world truly modern and expansive. Because of the flurry of conversations, there were a lot of close-up shots. With their faces so near the screen, it was hard for the characters to hide their emotions from viewers. When coupled with the stellar voice acting, this animation portrayed rage, frustration, and fear. These made the characters feel more human than before. That said, the static nature of the episode’s animation may not be the best example of A-1’s talents.


Solo Leveling Episode 8 brought the anime to a standstill so that its world could catch up to Jin-woo. Almost all the characters talked about Jin-woo or alluded to his tragedy in his absence. They talked more about Jin-woo than themselves in the hopes of never facing their guilt. Jin-woo himself was barely seen or heard from. However, the episode builds up to his old team’s coming reunion. While Jin-woo’s former teammates have no idea about the former E-ranked Hunter’s recent growth spurt, Episode 8 hints at the inevitable catharsis that will kick in when he boasts his new powers after they finally cross paths. Knowing Solo Leveling‘s preference for action, this is all but inevitable.

Solo Leveling is now streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

Solo Leveling Episode 8

Episode 8 comes after a hiatus but fails to grow out of its Monday blues with a story that pays its side characters some due attention.

Pros

  • Episode finally focuses on worldbuilding
  • Jin-woo’s reunion with his former teammates is handled with care
Cons

  • The slow pace of the episode impacts plot progression.
  • Characters get exposure but still feel stagnant.
  • The story does not go deep into the politics of the world.
  • Lacks the usual high-octane thrill.




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