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Arise, HIM-Woo! Shadow Monarch of the Dead!

Solo Leveling Ep 12 Review

This is the moment that I’ve been waiting for since I read the Solo Leveling manwha. Sung Jin-Woo has stepped into his own with his black air forces, but he’s getting stronger. And as his battle with Igris last episode showed, he needs to keep getting stronger. However, there’s only so much one person can do alone. That’s why Jin-Woo is going to need an army to back him up. And the army he gets makes the White Walkers and the Night King from Game of Thrones look like nothing!

Jin-Woo Shouldn’t Rely on Luck Anymore. He Needs his Black Air Forces

At the end of the last episode, Jin-Woo was in dire straits. Exhausted from fighting Igris, outnumbered by elite-level mooks, and missing the teleportation stone to leave, Jin-Woo is near his limit. To make matters worse, a vision of his past self appears as he starts remembering how weak he was. All of his fears, insecurities, and trauma come flooding back, almost making him falter. However, he gets a lucky break: having neglected to finish his daily goals, he gets teleported to the penalty zone. Unlike the dungeon, though, that place lets him use potions and items, so he abuses it to its limit.

The animation banged again!!! What a way to close out the first season of #SoloLeveling #sololevelingARISE

— KingXHaki (@KingXHaki91) March 31, 2024

There’s no sugarcoating this: Jim-Woo only survived because he got lucky. Luck is useful, no doubt, but relying on it to get by in life can be disastrous. Luck can fail you when you need it most. Jin-Woo knows this all too well. Had things gone differently in the Double Dungeon, he would be dead. That’s why the vision of his past self galvanizes him to never leave things up to chance again. Thus, by the time he gets back, he’s more than prepared for the fight.

This animation sequence made me so hard man you have no idea#俺レベ #SoloLeveling

— Ciel (@lyqnime_) March 31, 2024

And the reward he gets is nothing short of awesome. 

A King of Shadows is Crowned

To Jin-Woo’s dismay, he learns that he can’t choose his new class. The System chooses it based on his performance in the quest. And the Systems choice is that of Necromancer. AKA a mage, AKA a job that requires high intellect, which Jin-Woo has not focused on. Jin-Woo does get mad at first, but then he realizes how this could benefit him. Since he can fight in the front, he will be just as strong as the undead he raises. It’s a positive feedback loop: he gets stronger and an army of minions to do his bidding. Thus, Jin-Woo gets a new Class: Shadow Monarch. 

“Instead of defending the throne of one long gone, defend the man who stands before you.”

Man im crying rn I don’t believe that this shit is real …#SoloLeveling

— Ren I Aired arc I (@KingAired) March 30, 2024

While the manwha’s art style makes the formation of Jin-Woo’s initial shadow army look cooler, there’s no denying the anime retains the sentiment. And if you’ve read the manwha, then you know that the small group that Jin-Woo starts with is only the beginning. When I say he’s going to build an army, he’s going to build an army. An army of undead shadows that makes other Necromancers jealous. When the show continues, it’s only going to get even cooler. 

And he will need it for what’s coming.

What is Jeju Island, Anyway?

For a good part of the season, the anime’s been bringing up location over and over again: Jeju Island. There’s a good reason for it, too, and while I can’t remember when it’s explained in the manwha, the fact that they’re bringing it up now means it might be coming sooner than the source material. So I’m just going to rip the band-aid off now and save everyone the trouble.

Located south of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island became the sight of an S-Rank Dungeon several years prior to the start of the story. The Hunters failed to close it in time, and the end result was a dungeon break. That’s when the monsters in a dungeon spill over and invade the human world. In this, giant, killer ants! Thus, South Korea had to evacuate the island, put it under quarantine, and send expeditions in every now and then to see how bad it’s gotten. And the ending shot to the first season has a group of S-Rank Hunters return with disturbing intel: the Ants are learning to fly and swim.

For reference, look up the Chimera Ant Arc from Hunter x Hunter, then imagine something worse. It’s that bad. However, if the anime makes it to that point, the fights will be legendary. 

The first season of Solo Leveling is over, and while I wish it had put more into the final scenes with Jin-Woo and touched on Jin-Ho, the season wrapped itself up on a pretty solid note. Sung Jin-Woo is no longer the weakest Hunter, but is on the path to becoming the strongest. And with his Shadow Army behind him, he’s going to become HIM. This was one of the best anime of the Winter 2024 season, and I hope that it comes back soon. I want to see more fights and more intrigue as Jin-Woo continues his Solo Leveling journey.

I Give “Arise” a 5/5

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