Have you ever wished that life had a few more RPG stat windows and level-ups to help you defeat a demon invasion? That’s the life of Sung Jinwoo, the main character of the immensely popular Korean manhwa Solo Leveling, which has reached nearly three hundred million views in the original Korean format. Solo Leveling now has an official English manga courtesy of Yen Press, with fans across the world hoping for an anime adaptation soon!
Sung Jinwoo is an E-rank hunter — the lowest rank assigned to any demon hunter — in a world under threat of demonic invasion from terrifying ‘gates’ opening across the nation. When he is betrayed by his adventuring group, he reawakens to discover an RPG-style window only he can see. By following the quests laid out before him, Jinwoo begins his journey to become an S-rank hero and humanity’s greatest demon hunter!
While we sit and anxiously wait for more chapters to be released (or that anime!), we here at Honey’s Anime have prepared a list of six manga (and manhwa) similar to Solo Leveling to tide you over. It’s time to defend humanity and go from zero to hero!!
Similar Manga to Solo Leveling
1. Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou (Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest)
- Authors: Shirakome, Ryou
- Genres: Isekai, Shounen, Fantasy, Harem, Ecchi
- Volumes: 7+
- Published: March 2018 — present
When average, everyday high school student Hajime Nagumo finds his entire class summoned to another world, he hopes that his days of being the weak, bullied student are over. Except, while all of his classmates receive godlike abilities to help defend humanity from extinction, Hajime receives one of the weakest, most commonplace abilities —a simple transmutation skill barely useful for a novice blacksmith. As with Sung Jinwoo’s E-Rank hunter status, this puts Hajime at the bottom of the social hierarchy in a world threatened by demons and monsters.
Just like the opening acts of Solo Leveling, Hajime finds himself betrayed and left for dead by a fellow classmate in one of their first dungeon explorations. Falling to the bottom of the deadly labyrinth, Hajime nearly dies to the horrific monsters that inhabit the lowest stretches of the dungeon. Instead, his tenacity shines through, and he gradually becomes stronger by eating monster flesh, undergoing a torturous transformation into an unstoppable killing machine.
With a similar RPG ‘level up’ system to Solo Leveling, Hajime sees his abilities grow both physically and in those all-important stat numbers, giving the reader context for how rapidly his strength climbs. As the series progresses, Arifureta’s themes become less dark but no less adult, with Hajime set on a collision course with the world’s very gods. His character development mirrors Jinwoo’s as his personality shifts from a weak, vulnerable character into a strong and confident god-slaying warrior.
2. Kaiju No. 8
- Authors: Matsumoto, Naoya
- Genres: Shounen, Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy
- Volumes: 1+
- Published: December 2021— present
When we think of kaiju invasions, we think of superpowered heroes or giant mechs destroying city-sized monsters — and maybe even joining the fight to defend humanity. Thirty-two-year-old Kafka Hibino definitely dreamed of joining the Defense Corps to defend Japan from invading kaiju — until he flunked the entrance exam and landed a job as the cleanup janitor!!
When Kafka gets involved in a monster attack, he is infected by parasitic kaiju, transforming him into a human-monster hybrid with prodigal strength and the official title of a ‘numbered kaiju’ — the strongest and most dangerous classification the Defense Corps offers. Kafka doesn’t want to wreak havoc, but instead wants to use his newfound abilities to make good on a childhood promise and serve in the Corps. He just has to hope his kaiju powers remain hidden…
Reminiscent of the impressive powers wielded in Solo Leveling, the battle scenes in Kaiju No. 8 are some of our personal favourites, with full-page splashes of monstrous devastation. Kafka’s progression isn’t immediate either, allowing him to grow into his own strength, and for fans of the serialisation, there are also political machinations that seep into the story later on.
Kaiju No. 8 debuts in English next month, so be sure to check it out if you’re craving some good old-fashioned kaiju action!
3. Bouken-ka ni Narou!: Skill Board de Dungeon Kouryaku (CALL TO ADVENTURE! Defeating Dungeons with a Skill Board)
- Authors: Hagiu, Aki
- Genres: Shounen, Fantasy, Comedy
- Volumes: 3+
- Published: August 2021 — present
Ever since dungeons started opening across the land, the dream of becoming a monster-slayer turned into an established pastime for true dungeon adventurers! With a similar setup to Solo Leveling, CALL TO ADVENTURE! Defeating Dungeons with a Skill Board also gives the main character a special “level up” board that only he can see (because where’s the fun in sharing such a cool ability?!).
Twenty-seven-year-old Karaboshi Haruki is a nobody without any monster-slaying skills — but the sudden appearance of a dungeon in his very own garage brings with it a magical skill board that can help him level up and take down monsters! If you thought the ‘solo’ in Solo Leveling was a little lonely, then fret not, because Call to Adventure gives the main character friends on the journey, turning the story of ‘zero to hero’ into a group journey at the same time.
The fight scenes are drawn in gorgeous detail, with some impressively inked monsters, mixed in with excellently paced comedic beats. If you want more dungeon-diving experiences like Solo Leveling, but maybe with a little more group mechanics and humor, then Call to Adventure will definitely satisfy!
Any Manga Like Solo Leveling?
4. Chainsaw Man
- Authors: Fujimoto, Tatsuki
- Genres: Shounen, Horror, Supernatural, Fantasy
- Volumes: 7+
- Published: October 2020 — present
With the anime just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to jump into the gory, chainsaw-filled world of Chainsaw Man! Continuing the pattern of hopeless beginnings, the titular main character (real name: Denji) begins his story destitute and broke. This world is one constantly besieged by devils, and Denji has found himself indebted to the yakuza, forced to use a pet dog as a devil-slaying weapon. (Personally, we wish our pet cat had a few more useful abilities like that, but we digress.)
Betrayal is the name of the game, and just like Sung Jinwoo’s betrayal at the hands of his comrades, so too is Denji murdered by the very yakuza he’s been serving. Except Denji manages to resurrect thanks to his pet pooch, and gains the ability to turn any part of his body into a chainsaw. Now he can finally live a decent life as an official devil-slayer, chasing his teenage dreams of a peaceful life with the girl he admires.
Chainsaw Man offers some of the goriest and craziest action scenes around, upping the ante on brutality in some memorable battles — but what else would you expect from a man who can turn his limbs into chainsaws?!
5. A Returner's Magic Should Be Special
- Authors: Yook So-nan
- Genres: Shounen, Fantasy, School Life, Comedy
- Volumes: 87+ episodes
- Published: April 2021 — present
If you’re wanting a more authentic equivalent to reading Solo Leveling, then we here at Honey’s Anime have prepared two excellent manhwa recommendations to round out this list!
A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special wastes no time setting up the incredibly high stakes for the series, with the opening episode culminating in a literal world-ending apocalypse. As with Solo Leveling, the world here is constantly under threat from parallel dimensions filled with demons, called ‘Shadow Worlds’. The main character, Desir, has fought for ten years in the Shadow Labyrinth, where nearly one hundred and fifty million magicians and adventurers have died fighting the Labyrinth.
When the final boss of the Labyrinth triggers an apocalypse, Desir is transported thirteen years back in time, to his enrollment at a prestigious magical academy. Armed with dire knowledge of the future, Desir must race against time to protect his friends from their original deaths, and save the world from armageddon!
A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special is officially licensed in English on Tapas, with bind-up volumes recently announced by Yen Press!
6. I Am The Sorcerer King
- Authors: Decaspell
- Genres: Shounen, Fantasy
- Volumes: 30+
- Published: September 2021 — present
Our second manhwa recommendation also features a world under threat from demonic destruction. Sunghoon Lee is a powerless young man desperately seeking money to pay for his sick mother’s medical expenses. Similar to Solo Leveling’s Sung Jinwoo, our main character is taken advantage of by his more experienced comrades, and is quickly used as live bait to attract powerful monsters!
On death’s door, Sunghoon sees his life flash before his eyes — a previous life where he was an almighty mage called the Sorcerer King! Awakened to his reincarnated state, Sunghoon must gather magical energy and join the other ‘Awakeners’ to defend Korea against the monster invasion!
As with other titles on this list, there’s an RPG-like mechanism to the chosen ‘Awakeners’, who have access to magical windows that assign them classes, abilities, and stats. The modern setting has been excellently realized by the artist MIRO, with some truly impressive rendering of destructive explosions and modern army machinery. It’s a treat to read, and makes us really appreciate the full-color format that manhwa can offer!
I Am The Sorcerer King is officially licensed in English on Tapas!
Here at Honey’s Anime, we’re always looking for ways to prevent the apocalypse (well, assuming the answer can be found in the bottom of a box of Pocky!). So maybe we’d better leave the defense of humanity to some of the excellent heroes who will rise from their average status and mantle impressive magical skills to defeat a roster of demons and devils!
If you have your own recommendations for manga like Solo Leveling, please drop a comment below!