Episode 12 – Solo Leveling

How would you rate episode 12 of
Solo Leveling ?

Community score: 4.0

Do we ever really change? That’s the question at the core of this, the final episode of season one. We’ve seen Jinwoo undergo a remarkable transformation. He’s grown not only physically but mentally as well. On one hand, he’s now a lean tower of muscle and, on the other, has come to terms with becoming the kind of person he has to be to keep clearing dungeons and save his mother… or has he?

In this episode, we see Jinwoo at his lowest point—a point he hasn’t experienced since back in the second episode when he became a “player.” And it’s here that he is haunted by his inner demons wearing the faces of friends and foes—and of his past self. Being in the same situation again—injured, dying, and facing death with no ability to save himself—it’s hard not to feel that he hasn’t changed at all. Perhaps, all this power just gave him an ego and at his core, he is still the world’s weakest hunter. But even facing his death—both then and now—Jinwoo doesn’t accept death even in his mind. Yes, the doubts are there—will always be there—but the thing that hasn’t changed is the most important thing of all: his resolve.

And this time, it’s not his rage or some new skill or power-up that saves him. It’s pure dumb luck. However, that’s not to say it’s a Deus Ex Machina. Rather what we have here is a solidly built Chekhov’s Gun. Way back in episode three, the penalty zone was set up as a way to show the importance of missions given by the system—even trivial-seeming ones. Throughout the anime we have seen Jinwoo doing his daily quest religiously and last episode, it was set up that Jinwoo had forgotten to do his daily quest. Thus, while lucky, his trip to the penalty zone this episode—and its freedom from the no-healing-items rule of the job change dungeon—feels earned.

The rest of the episode is pure action. Jinwoo now rested, figures out the trick to clearing the dungeon and—with a new weapon in his arsenal—can make short work of the mages controlling the armored warriors. All this brings us to Jinwoo’s new power.

While up until this moment, he has been largely alone on his quest to power up (though, not completely alone thanks to Jinho), his new job gives him an army. Seemingly any enemy he defeats can now become his undead servant. While this seems insanely overpowered the story does a good job of giving the power major limitations right out of the gate: there is a maximum power/creature cap and any creature stronger than him will only become his servant if they allow it (or perhaps if his luck is really good).

Thus the season ends with Jinwoo more powerful than ever before—with an army of soldiers, mages, and a boss-level monster at his command. But with the revelations coming out of Jeju island—namely that the monsters there are evolving and growing wings—it’s looking like Jinwoo and his army may not even be enough for what is coming.


Random Thoughts:

• But our true cliffhanger? Will Jinwoo be on time for his sister’s parent-teacher conference!?

• I always enjoy the little details added in for readers of the original—like Hae-in getting sick before the mission.

• I don’t know why, but I was under the impression that this was a 2-cour show from the start. I didn’t realize this was a season finale till I saw the news online.

• Thanks for reading these reviews. Be sure to vote for the sequel in the daily streaming review poll when the show starts airing again if you want to read more.

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