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Solo Leveling Episode 9, “You’ve Been Hiding Your Skills” Review




The following contains spoilers for
Solo Leveling
Episode 9, “You’ve Been Hiding Your Skills,” streaming now on Crunchyroll.

Through its countless bloody encounters, Solo Leveling has shown how dangerous each dungeon can be for Hunters. But if anything, the world outside is just as treacherous. People can hide their true selves behind the disguise of a functional member of society. Somehow, these dungeons remove these charades and bring out the inherent ugliness. Jin-woo Sung has experienced this twice now, once inside the Cartenon Temple and the other time while dealing with the Lizards. These fateful encounters continue as he now has to deal with a killer who is cut from the same cloth as he is.

Solo Leveling Episode 9, “You’ve Been Hiding Your Skills,” is a clash of daggers as Jin-woo Sung finally meets someone who can keep up with him. The episode features the voice acting of Taito Ban in the lead, Eiji Hanawa as Chi-yul Song, Rina Honnizumi as Joo-hee Lee, and Koki Uchiyama as Hunter Association inspector Tae-shik Kang, who is tasked with keeping the convicts in line, even if he also hides a big secret. Shunsuke Nakashige serves as the series director and Noboru Kimura as composer, while Hirotaka Tokuda and Shingo Irie return to direct and script the episode, respectively. A-1 Pictures brings forward an unleashed visual style, which keeps up with music director Hiroyuki Sawano’s rhythm.


A Complete Timeline of Solo Leveling

Solo Leveling’s timeline follows Sung Jinwoo, once the world’s weakest hunter, as he levels up to unprecedented new heights of power.

What Makes Solo Leveling Episode 9 So Exhilarating?

Solo Leveling Episode 9 Dives Into A Story Of Betrayal, Blood, & Brutality

After the sluggish pace of the previous episode, Solo Leveling returns to its usual programming. It accomplishes this by returning to the dungeons’ darkness, where things have a habit of taking an unsavory turn. Solo Leveling Episode 9 finds itself navigating the narrow, meandering trails of a goblin cave, while it also tackles a momentous reunion. Like the path that splits before the characters, the narrative also divides into parts that give the suspense and gloom some breathing room until they meet again. The episode, even before Jin-woo’s reunion with his old teammates can start on the right foot, loses no time in going from zero to a hundred in a matter of minutes through its depiction of endless violence. It is this very nature of Solo Leveling‘s storytelling that continues to draw in new fans and keeps viewers rooted to their seats.

No wonder, by now, Solo Leveling has become accustomed to the sight of blood. However, it is increasingly clear that the anime wants its audience to feel that there is only so much that separates humans and monsters, regarding their contrasting levels of bloodlust. Thus far, Solo Leveling‘s stories have made no attempt to empathize with the terrors that dwell in the dark. These creatures, for all intents and purposes, are simply staving off attacks from invaders. Solo Leveling creates a sliding moral compass that some humans are willing to infringe upon for their own selfish gains, be it greed or gratification. Jin-woo finds himself at the center of this tussle, which is now the anime’s staple storyline. Solo Leveling‘s protagonist lays down the law with an iron fist, which lets the viewer project their own power fantasies toward real-life injustice.

The only way that Jin-woo is able to enforce his powers is through the episode’s action-packed set pieces. Solo Leveling Episode 9 makes the most of a sudden turn of events. On one side is a group of people who hope to never meet again, but inevitably come face-to-face. On the other hand, there are a bunch of convicts who participate in the same operation as normal Hunters. By anime law, something has to go wrong. The way in which this happens, with the surprising suspect at the helm, and the loss of life that follows, makes the episode a bluntly destructive affair. Despite this mayhem, Solo Leveling‘s story poises this as another unmissable checkpoint in Jin-woo’s journey to greatness as the body count only rises.


Solo Leveling: What is a Second Awakening?

Second Awakenings are among the most mysterious phenomena in Solo Leveling, but at least some of them can be explained.

Are The Characters Up To The Task In Solo Leveling Episode 9?

Solo Leveling Episode 9 Makes Good Use Of Its Supporting Cast.

Chi-yul Song and Joo-hee Lee with surprised look in Solo Leveling Episode 9.

Solo Leveling follows its protagonist’s rise with religious fervor, but leaves the supporting cast to their own machinations. The only way that characters feel involved in the story is through their connection to Jin-woo, which stems from their shared trauma of the Cartenon Temple incident. When the dust settles, these same characters judge their worldview either through their animosity toward him or as a fan of his stoicism. Both Chi-yul Song and Joo-hee Lee begin the episode through their attempts to be cordial and protective of Jin-woo. Despite his reassurances, their guilt hangs over their actions like a cloud. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the words of Sang-shik Kim, who faces an uncomfortable position having to face Jin-woo right after he’s been left to die. The audience gets a taste of the brewing storm that was in his mind during the previous episode, but now they see him get wrecked as the prospect of owning up to his action draws near.

Tae-shik Kang is a character who falls on the opposite spectrum of all this. Like most of the series’ antagonists, Tae-shik seriously underestimates Jin-woo, which backfires. Solo Leveling loves to portray its protagonist as an underdog in the eyes of every character. In the build-up to the two’s clash, Jin-woo finds himself on the defensive because of the story’s need to keep the thrill going until the end of the encounter. It’s like a gladiatorial match for fans. There are definite similarities between Tae-shik and Jin-woo, which are clearly intentional. Both characters showcase their assassin build as the fight shifts into a battle of personalities. Jin-woo, after greater character development, has become even colder and shows even less emotion. In contrast, Tae-shik gets more cold-blooded and twisted with time. This disparity slowly drives the divide between their skills and wits.

Koki Uchiyama does a phenomenal job of bringing out Tae-shik Kang’s heightened expressions. This time, it is not Jin-woo, but his enemies who quiver in desperation. This instantly changes the viewer’s perception of Tae-shik’s character from cool to nefarious. Much of this has to do with Uchiyama’s talented work in the episode. The shift in personality happens almost immediately. While Taito Ban remains a leading presence, Chi-yul Song and Joo-hee Lee’s voice actors put up strong performances that help prop up their lead star.


Every Version Of Solo Leveling, Ranked

There are many versions of Solo Leveling available, but which is the best?

How Does The Animation Fare In Solo Leveling Episode 9?

Solo Leveling Episode 9’s Animation Mixes Both Visually Disturbing & Fast-Paced Action.

For the past few episodes, A-1 Pictures has been diligently animating Jin-woo Sung’s every fight with plenty of blood and gore. This time, A-1 concentrates on the other characters’ flashy moves, especially Tae-shik Kang, whose terrifying skills with the blade become the episode’s main attraction. The first battle between Kang and Chi-yul Song brings the magic versus might aspect of an RPG out in full force. CGI magic effects and fiery sparks fly and make this a heated altercation. However, the real fight starts once Jin-woo warms up. It is not that Jin-woo has never had a chance to show off his skills. His previous fight with a giant spider is a testament to his tenacity. That being said, in this battle of evenly-matched assassins, A-1 focuses on showing their sheer speed through fast-paced frames and a bloodthirsty rage in their eyes. Visually, the episode is a top-notch example of A-1 Pictures’ efforts to bring the Solo Leveling webtoon to life. The dungeons look shady, yet are well-lit, so that the audience can witness the carnage that unfolds. The animators somehow manage to balance this bloodbath with Solo Leveling‘s slick aesthetic.

Tae-shik Kang spirals into a homicidal monster in human flesh, which becomes a cautionary tale that Jin-woo needs to learn from. The parallels here are obvious. Here is a man who holds so much power that he has become numb to the consequences. He derives pleasure from taking life away from a mortal body. Jin-woo loses a part of his emotion every time he shows his murderous intent. The man now stands on the cusp of the same fate as his enemy. Solo Leveling Episode 9, “You’ve Been Hiding Your Skills,” has spectacular fights and pensive emotions that only become further aggravated at the hands of a killer. While this episode never provides the necessary closure that some characters need, it broaches the subject of judicial injustice and the corruption of power. All this adds to Solo Leveling‘s impressive world-building, alongside Jin-woo Sung’s ascension.

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

Solo Leveling Episode 9, “You’ve Been Hiding Your Skills”

Solo Leveling gets back into the groove with violent deaths and swashbuckling action as Jin-woo Sung finally meets his mirror image in a costly battle.


  • Solo Leveling crafts a strong story around its characters.
  • The episode is stacked with action-packed scenes.
  • Tae-shik Kang is the perfect foil for Jin-woo Sung, both as a character and in physicality.
  • A-1 Pictures makes the animation as thrilling as possible.

  • The supporting cast’s worth is still tied to the protagonist.

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