10 Anime Based on Popular Korean Manhwa

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While anime is usually thought of as adaptations of Japanese manga, anime actually draws on a lot of inspirations, including a few adaptations of Korean manhwa, which are Korean comics, often influenced by Japanese manga. After all, in recent years, Korean comics have reached a boom in popularity thanks to webtoons, which are digitally released comics, often meant to be read on readers’ phones. It also helps that, with many K-dramas based on manhwa and webtoons, they’ve proven to contain stories that work outside of just the printed, or digital, page.

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Many popular webtoons and manhwa actually started life as web novels, before branching out into other forms of media. As is often the case with adaptations, there might be a few differences between a manhwa or webtoon and the anime it inspires. For example, a few anime adaptations might transplant a story originally taking place in South Korea to Japan.

10 Solo Leveling (2024)

Solo Leveling takes place in a world where mysterious gates have awakened on Earth, connecting it to another world and awakening strange powers in people. Human hunters must now face off against monsters. Sung Jinwoo is a weak hunter who comes across the System, a mysterious program that selects him as its player, granting him the power to grow stronger by killing shadow minions, after he narrowly survives a dangerous double dungeon. Jinwoo wakes up in a hospital, now being able to see the world like a role-playing game, complete with a quest log. Now, he must fight to uncover the secrets about hs past as well as the dungeons.

The Hero Gets to Level Up

For fans of RPG games, Sung Jinwoo is the perfect escapist character, starting out as someone written off as the world’s weakest hunter to outclassing the other characters. Solo Leveling started as a serial web novel, before later being adapted into a webtoon and later an anime adaptation from A-1 Pictures.

Stream on Crunchyroll

9 Lookism (2022)

How you look reigns supreme in Lookism. Park Hyung Suk, also known as Daniel Park, is written off as unattractive and regularly gets bullied over it. Upon noticing this, his well-meaning and overworked mother sends him to a new school, but people are just as mean as before. One night, he finds he has transformed into a taller, handsome, alter-ego, but his original body still exists, sleeping in his bed. He then decides to use his new body to escape being bullied.

A Chinese Live-Action Show and an Animated Series

Dealing with issues like poverty and brutal bullying, Lookism is a series that will have audiences root for Hyung Suk and enjoy seeing the bully characters get theirs. Hyung Suk’s relationship with his loving and self-sacrificing mother is also particularly endearing to see. The webtoon later gained an animated adaptation from the South Korean Studio Mir, with the series considered a Japanese-Korean co-production. Before this adaptation, it was previously adapted into a live-action Chinese series.

Stream on Netflix

8 Noblesse (2020)

Noblesse is a long-running webtoon revolving around a “noble,” a member of a race once worshipped, named Cadis Etrama Di Raizel waking to find himself in a modern city after nearly a 1,000-year sleep. “Ra” enrolls at a local school and tries to adjust to this new world with the help of his servant, Frankenstein. As his past starts to resurface, all the while making new allies, Rai starts to become a subject of interest for a secret organization.

Not Your Average Vampire Story

Noblesse was originally given an animated adaptation from South Korea’s Studio Animal in an 37-minute animated short. However, the series would later gain the Noblesse: Beginning of Destruction OVA, the Noblesse: Awakening ONA, which adapts the manhwa’s first volume, and an anime television series, which starts off with the manhwa’s second volume. Notably, the anime resets the story from South Korea to Japan.

Stream on Crunchyroll

Related: 20 Must-Watch Anime Series on Netflix

7 Tower of God (2020)

Tower of God revolves around a boy known as Twenty-Fifth Bam, who has spent most of his life beneath the mysterious Tower. One day, his best friend Rachel enters the Tower, and he chases after her. Soon, Bam will have to face off against a new test of every Tower floor, all the while being looked down on as an uninvited “Irregular.” All that he has to keep him going is the hope of seeing Rachel again. However, he will soon meet new allies to help him.

The Tower Holds Whatever You Desire

The series, which started as a webtoon, later got turned into an anime by Telecom Animation Film. After a first season of 13 episodes, the series s expected to premiere a second season in July 2024. Crunchyroll later streamed the series as a co-production, giving the series its “Crunchyroll Originals” title.

Stream on Crunchyroll

6 The God of High School (2020)

The God of High School sees a young martial artist, Mori Jin, get invited to enter the “The God of High School” martial arts tournament. The winner will get a wish granted by the mysterious corporation hosting the event. The fighters use a energy known as “Borrowed Power” that can be granted by all sorts of supernatural beings, from gods to demons. Mori himself is a practitioner of “Renewal Taekwondo,” a fictional style of Taekwondo taught to him by his grandfather, who Mori hopes to reunite with through winning a wish.

Mori doesn’t like to use “Borrowed Powers,” but his true identity proves to be less than mundane. MAPPA and Crunchyroll later developed a 13-episode anime series, making it a “CrunchyRoll Original.” The series also features a notable sight gag: the fighting ring features Crunchyroll and Naver Webtoon logos, suggesting they are sponsors of the event.

Stream on Crunchyroll

5 When I Woke Up I Became a Bagel Girl (2019)

In When I Woke Up I Became a Bagel Girl, Jeong Bong Gi once dreamed of doing something great with his life, but this wish seems like it will never come true, with him being unloved and lonely. However, he does have one outlet: online gaming, for which he has a talent. This changes when he wakes up and sees he’s transformed into a beautiful woman. Looking for advice online, he encounters Han Sae Mi, the sister of his former bully, Sang Woo.

The Transformation Wasn’t the Only Mystery

In this story, the mystery isn’t just behind the main character’s transformation, but what led him to his sad life at the start, too. The “bagel girl” of the title refers to a woman with a childlike face. Studio Animal released an anime based on the webtoon lasting 15 episodes, each lasting around 14 minutes. Sang Woo is notably portrayed in a more sympathetic light in the anime than the original webtoon, having been a former friend of Bong Gi and their fallout due to being from a misunderstanding.

Stream on OnDemandKorea

4 Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion (2023)

In Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion, Park Eunha has just been accepted into a university, only to be killed by a mysterious assailant. She wakes up to find herself inside a novel she once read. She is now Raeliana McMillan, a baron’s daughter who is destined to die at the hands of her fiancé. Plans to simply break up with her would-be killer fail, so she comes up with another plan.

The Protagonist Might be Closer Than They Appear

Using her knowledge of the book, she blackmails the love-interest of the story’s actual protagonist into a fake engagement. However, he soon starts to genuinely fall for her. Meanwhile, Raeliana will soon learn she has a secret connection to the original protagonist, Beatrice. The series originated as a web novel before being adapted into a webtoon. The story was later made into an anime series by Typhoon Graphics.

Stream on Crunchyroll

Related: 10 Anime Series That Ended on Huge Cliffhangers

3 Doctor Elise: The Royal Lady with the Lamp (2024)

Doctor Elise: The Royal Lady with the Lamp, or simply Doctor Elise, stars the titular empress, who is spoiled, yet unpopular, causing her to be executed by her people. Awakening to a new life in the modern world, she decides to atone for the past by becoming a doctor. After dying a second time, she is given another chance as Elise, complete with her medical expertise. Hoping to win over her subjects this time around, she sets up medical reforms and tries to reach out to the people.

A Second, or Third, Chance at Life

The story notably adds a twist to isekai stories in which a modern woman is reborn as a villainess in another world, as the latter is presented as her original life here. The series started as a web novel and later gained a webtoon adaptation before getting an anime from Maho Film. One notable difference between the original story and the anime is Elise’s life in the modern world, going from a Korean woman named Song Jihyun to a Japanese woman named Aoi Takamoto. In addition, Elise’s modern alter-ego is also given more focus in the anime.

Stream on Crunchyroll

2 A Returner’s Magic Should be Special (2023)

A Returner’s Magic Should be Special takes place in a world where people can use magic with the help of powerful gems. All the while, humans are in danger from the Shadow World, a deadly parallel reality that appears once a year. The only chance at survival is fighting historic events contained in the Shadow World. Desir Armin is a magician who manages to slay the Shadow World’s final boss, Bhromier Napolitan, though with few survivors.

Desir Must Save the Fallen

Desir is given a chance to return to his youth, as well as the chance those fated to die in battle. The original web novel was adapted into a webtoon and an anime from Arvo Animation, with its first season premiering in October 2023, and a second season announced after the final episode.

Stream on Crunchyroll

1 Kurokami (2009)

Kurokami, also known as Black God, takes place in a world where people can meet duplicates of themselves, known as a “doppeliner.” though such a meeting means death within a day. Meanwhile, Keita Ibuki helps feed a hungry girl, Kuro, who turns out to be a Tera Guardian tasked with protecting existence itself. Keita is soon attacked in an ambush, but is saved by Kuto, creating a contract between them. Meanwhile, Keita is trying to investigate his mother’s death, which may just involve a doppeliner.

Duplicates and Tera Guardians

The series is considered a Japanese-Korean production, effectively a manga created by a manhwa team. Sunrise later released an anime series known as Kurokami: The Animation, which lasted 24 episodes. There are a few notable differences between the comic and the anime. For example, Keita is a struggling video game designer in the comic, but a high school student in the anime.

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