‘Solo Leveling’ Star On The Series’ Horror

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One of the hottest new anime series this year is Solo Leveling, which began as a Korean webcomic in 2016. Now, A-1 Pictures has brought the comic sensation to the screen with a gnarly adaptation that feels like modern-day Japan meets Dark Souls meets your favorite RPG. It’s a dazzling mix of genres that constantly keeps you guessing.

Read the full synopsis:

They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but that’s not the case for the world’s weakest hunter Sung Jinwoo. After being brutally slaughtered by monsters in a high-ranking dungeon, Jinwoo came back with the System, a program only he could see, that’s leveling him up in every way. Now, he’s inspired to discover the secrets behind his powers and the dungeon that spawned them.”

Dread Central spoke with Jinwoo voice actor Aleks Le and English ADR Director Caitlin Glass about translating the webcomic, Jinwoo’s journey, and the horrors to come this season.

Dread Central: Aleks, you’ve played other characters similar to Jinwoo in that they seem weak, but quickly reveal their strengths. How do you approach roles like that where your character undergoes such a transformation?

Aleks Le: That is one of the things I’ve been doing quite a lot! Unlike some of my previous roles, I think the gap in Jinwoo’s evolution is the most extreme example that I’ve tackled. As an actor, it is super exciting to me! I don’t get to show off my range often, so I’m seriously grateful that there’s an opportunity to do something like that on a show as grand and cool as this. My voice has worn down over the years, but I’ve been very lucky to retain some of my higher range from my younger years. Anytime I get to bring that out, it’s like revisiting an old friend. I get to bring a lot of my naiveté and unpolished tone from that time to the fresh-faced Jinwoo, and apply my experience and maturity as he grows!

DC: Caitlin, Solo Leveling started as a Korean webcomic, which was translated into Japanese, and is now being translated into English. What was the process like to prepare for this show, and was it any different/more complicated than previous series?

Caitlin Glass: For my part, it wasn’t too different in preparing for Solo Leveling. It’s great that there is source material to use as a road map and I’d already read the manhwa before being assigned the project, so I was a step ahead there! The hardest part was keeping everything under wraps for so long!

DC: Caitlin, how was the casting process and why did you think Aleks was the right fit for Jinwoo?

CG: Jinwoo has a massive amount of growth and also multiple aspects to his voice, so I needed an actor who could play the range of all those emotions and voices, as well as be able to scream and fight really well. Aleks has a really nice purity to his young voice as well as access to some excellent resonance for other aspects of Jinwoo. It was a no-brainer, really!

DC: For both of you, are you a horror fan? While this isn’t specifically a horror anime, there are definitely horror elements, especially in the first few episodes!

AL: I am actually! I’m much more of a psychological horror and suspense fan as opposed to gore usually. But I’ve got to give credit where credit is due, because the horror elements and carnage displayed in those episodes were insanely engaging and very hard for me to look away from.

CG: I’m definitely not! I enjoy suspense and psychological thrillers sometimes and spooky stories, but I’ve never been into horror or gore. So, it’s a little odd that I’m so taken with Solo Leveling. But I can appreciate all the blood and guts as a necessary part of bringing the story to life.

DC: Aleks, can you tease what you have in store for Jinwoo’s journey?

AL: Jinwoo is only going to get stronger, and maybe that strength will need something in return from him as well…

DC: Caitlin, what are you most excited for audiences to see in this series as it progresses?

CG: I’m truly excited for audiences to experience all this show has to offer. The animation is top-notch, the music, the sound design, the actors, and the characters themselves are on another level. I think all parties involved at every stage of production know what a special project this is and are absolutely doing their best work because of that. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and thanks for watching!

New episodes of Solo Leveling air on Crunchyroll every Saturday.

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