Compared to the manga industry, webtoons are relatively new and not as popular as the long-running manga-anime successes such as Naruto, One Piece, and Dragon Ball Z. Still, the webtoon industry has the potential to become much more than it is presently, especially when webtoon anime adaptations seem to be “the next big thing.”
Webtoon anime adaptations were one of the most anticipated titles in 2020, but the adaptations were underwhelming for potent reasons. Fortunately, Solo Leveling has the potential to change the public stance on webtoon adaptations if they don’t follow the trends set by shows like Tower of God and God of High School. So, can fans expect a quality anime series from Solo Leveling’s adaptation?
The Problem With Webtoon Anime Adaptations
The year 2020 was stacked with three central webtoon adaptations that most webtoon readers looked forward to seeing. All three titles: Tower of God, God of High School, and Noblesse, debuted in the same year, but their performances were short of expectations. As expected with the adaptation of a story or manga, not every reader will be satisfied with the animated version of the original source material. However, there are subtle standards to measure the success of an adaptation. One of the central ways is story pacing and how well the adaptation introduces viewers to the story’s major themes. To be fair, all of 2022’s webtoon adaptations had ‘gaping’ pacing issues that left fans surprised and ultimately disappointed.
The shows had good fights, uncontestable; however, the script writing raised many questions from webtoon-anime fans who expected so much more. Starting with the first adaptation, Tower of God is an enjoyable webtoon with an immersive plot and world-building. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation was rushed, questionable, and left a lot of questions hanging for the non-webtoon readers. This isn’t surprising, considering the fact that anime rushed through 78 chapters of the webtoon in just one season. Consequently, many crucial ingredients of the series were neglected, causing a rift in the story’s pacing.
Webtoon reader or not, every viewer should easily understand every detail a show has to offer, but this wasn’t the case for God of High School. The martial arts-inspired show started with the typical tournament trope, which was fascinating and exciting to watch. Regardless, the anime failed to properly introduce viewers to the new power system: Charyeok. In addition, the ending of the first season was underwhelming, hard to follow, and a bit complicated. Again, God of High School repeats the same mistake as Tower of God. The anime ships out 100 chapters of the story in 13 episodes. Noblesse has its own problems, too, setting the OVA as an introduction to the anime series. Similarly, the anime season sums up about 90 chapters in a handful of episodes. These repeated mistakes lead fans to question the viability of the Solo Leveling anime adaptation.
Crunchyroll – Doing Good With Its Originals?
Crunchyroll, the anime streaming platform based in North America, is a leading authority in the anime franchise. The website started in 2006 and has evolved to become an iconic industry in the world of anime. Although Crunchyroll is a streaming site, it frequently dabbles in anime production, with shows called “Crunchyroll Originals.” A major portion of webtoon anime adaptations belongs to this category. The main reason is that most Japanese studios do not really fancy adapting Korean webtoons for obvious reasons. Anime, essentially, promotes the Japanese culture and way of life, and webtoons are different in content and style.
Crunchyroll’s efforts to create anime adaptations with collaborations from iconic studios like Mappa led to the production of webtoon-based anime that are not really good representations of their source materials. The titles God of High School, Noblesse, and Tower of God were spearheaded by Crunchyroll but didn’t turn out to be great. Frankly, the anime adaptations left fans disappointed and antagonistic towards the future of webtoon adaptations. Recently, Crunchyroll dropped a trailer on Solo Leveling, which already mirrors existing fan trailers on the internet.
While most Solo Leveling fans are excited at the prospect of the anime, with a critical eye, one can guess that “budget” may be an issue in the upcoming anime adaptation. An anime trailer should share teasers of what fans should expect from an anime, and not feature pictures taken from the original source material. Nevertheless, even though the picture-based trailer debuted first, it doesn’t mean fans won’t get another fantastic animated trailer later. Still, it raises budgeting questions bordering on adaptation issues.
Will Solo Leveling Anime Adaptation Break The Webtoon Anime Standard?
One thing Solo Leveling has over all the previous webtoon anime adaptations is popularity. Solo Leveling has garnered over 6 million readers, a number that is still growing to date. It’s easily the most popular webtoon series out there, so Crunchyroll will have to approach the anime adaptation with caution. Furthermore, A-1 Pictures and Hiroyuki Sawano, who both contributed to the successful 86 Eighty-Six light novel anime adaptation, will be in charge of Solo Leveling. With that in mind, fans can hope for a quality anime series.
Regarding the issue of budgeting, it is not yet clear how much Crunchyroll is willing to invest in their new ‘original.’ Still, fans hope it’s enough to paint the story as it should be without skipping events from the original source material. Overall, Solo Leveling will determine whether the webtoon-anime franchise will be getting a redemption or not.
Solo Leveling anime is scheduled to premiere on Crunchyroll in 2023.