In manhwa, power systems play a pivotal role in shaping narratives and providing richness to stories, captivating readers with their boundless possibilities.
These intricate power systems delve into themes of character growth, accountability, and the repercussions of wielding extraordinary abilities.
At the core of narrative construction and world development in manhwa, particularly those centered on action, lies the integral element of power systems. The vast array of imaginative power systems present in the world of manhwa serves to enhance the depth of the stories they are woven into. Readers are not only engrossed by the compelling plots and nuanced characterizations but are also enticed by the fascination of unraveling, comprehending, and witnessing the seemingly limitless potential embedded within these enchanting power systems.
Not only do they serve to entertain, but they are also a platform for exploring thematic tropes about character development and responsibility and the consequences of being able to wield such powers. As a result, power systems are now essential parts relevant to manhwa genres, and below are some of the best to be seen so far.
|Author / Illustrator||Sanji Jiksong / 3B2S|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Fantasy|
The storyline of the Tomb Raider King Manhwa centers on the relic power system, which resulted from the appearance of the God Tombs. These God Tombs mysteriously start appearing worldwide, and within them are found mysterious relics: objects based majorly on mythology, historical figures, and even folk tales. Unlike typical power systems inherent within humans, these relics are imbued with power.
In turn, those powers become available to the possessor of the relics, and it's evident that the greater the number of high-quality relics an individual holds, the more formidable they become. After Seo Joo-Heon, the protagonist of the story, undergoes a regression, he leverages the knowledge and wisdom gained from his past life to surpass every other tomb raider, establishing himself as the eponymous Tomb Raider King.
|Author / Illustrator||Sanji Jiksong / Lee Beomgeun|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Fantasy|
The Constellation power system in this manhwa draws inspiration from the renowned zodiac constellations of astrology. According to the storyline, the original 13 zodiac constellations were once members of the Creator Tribe, distinguished as the preeminent artisans of the Divine World. These 13 Zodiac constellations are essentially divine entities who select proxies on Earth to showcase their prowess and aid in humanity's salvation from disasters. Designated as Saints, these proxies act as representatives of the zodiac Gods, embodying their power attributes and undertaking the task of accumulating human faith in these celestial beings. Each constellation follows a hierarchical structure akin to a religious order, referred to as Divine Cadres, within which disciples hold their respective positions.
The more elevated a disciple's position within a divine cadre, the greater the influence they can wield from the corresponding Zodiac constellation. Yet, the potency available to these Divine Cadres is directly linked to the volume of faith garnered by their respective Zodiac constellations. One standout characteristic of the Constellation power system lies in its organized structure and user-friendly design, contributing to a straightforward and accessible reading experience.
8 Talents (Ordeal)
|Author / Illustrator||Brent Pistol|
The concept of the Talent power system in the Ordeal manhwa is intriguing, rooted in the inherent nature of Kimyos. These beings are believed to have emerged through a shift in human genetic composition, giving rise to an entirely new species deemed genetically superior to the average human. Kimyos exhibit elevated physical attributes and are born with unique abilities known as talents. These talents are classified into 16 categories: Corrode, Creation, Elemental, Haste, Hide, Kinesis, Power, Psychic, Range Control, Range, Shift, State, Support, Toxic, Void, and Warp. A talent can fall under multiple classifications, and these abilities manifest solely through Chi, the inner energy inherent in all Kimyos.
The transfer of talents, exemplified by instances like Leo Thomas and the protagonist, Che Heart, is possible but can only occur when a Kimyo is on the brink of death. Furthermore, talents can be divided into parts. Remarkably, talents resurface after the demise of the Kimyos possessing them, a phenomenon initiated by the Four Great Talents. The intricate Talent power system embedded in the Ordeal manhwa, while complex, adds a layer of fascination as it intertwines with mythology and lore, contributing depth to the narrative.
|Author / Illustrator||Chu Gong / Jang Sung-Rak, Disciples|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Fantasy|
Awakening is a phenomenon that began to occur after the Gate first appeared, according to the Solo Leveling manhwa. By awakening, humans started to develop powers and abilities to fight the monsters that spawned from these gates. The Hunter occupation is created with only awakened humans being able to kill the monsters and beasts. After awakening, Hunters are ranked by an international S-E system to determine various levels of strength, with S being the strongest and E the weakest. Further, hunters are divided into two classes: Combat and Non-combat.
They are subdivided into six types: Fighters, Mages, Assassins, Mages, Healers, Tankers, and Rangers. To qualify as a hunter, one must be awakened, and not all awakened are necessarily hunters. Still, all hunters are awakened, with the awakening process a prerequisite to obtaining a hunter license.
6 Jungle Juice ( Jungle Juice)
|Author / Illustrator||Hyung Eun / Juder|
Jungle Juice's ability concept is adopted from insects and their various characteristics. According to the manhwa, Jungle Juice is a compound chemical disguised as bug spray created by a mysterious company and, upon usage on a human, will give such an individual the abilities and characteristics of a specific insect.
The chemical compound even goes as far as altering physical features to replicate parts of the particular insect peculiar to the human in question, as was the case with the story's protagonist, Jang Suchan, who gained the complex of a dragonfly. Through the Jungle Juice, Insect humans were created, and alongside them were the various insect complexes peculiar to each insect human.
5 Dice (Dice: The Cube That Changes Everything)
|Author / Illustrator||Yun Hyun Suk|
|Genre||Action, Drama, Fantasy, School life, Supernatural|
The story of Dice: The Cube That Changes Everything revolves around the Dice artifacts. Dice first appeared sometime in the past by falling to Earth, precisely to a slum in South Korea, a phenomenon that implies that Dice are not of human origins. These Dice can grant their users different physical and supernatural abilities. According to the series, the first known human to come in contact with Dice became X, the story's villain.
Users of Dice are called Dicers, and Dice can be produced by using the desires of Dicers as fuel. Like currency, the Dice are the source of all the abilities employed within the story, as a person must be a Dicer to have his wishes granted. Dice are further classified into ranks and types: Ordinary, A Rank, and S Rank Dice, and types are Soul, Enchant, and Ancient Dice. Dicers are grouped according to the ranking of their Dice, giving the seemingly chaotic game a structure. Essentially, the heart of the story, the Dice, are the enabling variant of all characters involved.
|Author / Illustrator||Barnacle / Redice Studio|
|Genre||Adventure, Action, Fantasy|
The Great Mage Returns After 4000 Years is a fantasy manhwa based on the premise of magic. According to the series, magic practice is only possible through mana manipulation. Mana is life energy found in all things but much more with humans. Similar to humans and other creatures who are reliant on mana to perform magic, demigods operate on divine power, an equivalent of mana in the series.
In the manhwa, mana and divine power, although of similar essence, cannot theoretically coexist as mana is an inferior equivalent of demigods’ energy and a symbolic representation of human mortality, and in alignment with the story’s narrative, the critical element of power. The strength of a mage's magic is classified into numbered stars, ranking 1-star to as high as an 8-star, with the highest achieved in humanity's history being 8-star by the great mage, Lucas Traumen, who is now the story's protagonist as Frey Blake.
3 God Candidate (God Game)
|Author / Illustrator||Brandon Chen / Thirdphp|
|Genre||Mystery, Action, Fantasy, Romance, Thriller|
The storyline for the God Game manhwa revolves entirely around the God Game: a ruthless, no-holds-barred, bloody contest that can only be won by the last surviving candidate. Masterminded by the being called God, the God Game can only be played by humans chosen as God candidates and, in rare cases, actual Gods.
The God candidature of these humans is the foundation for the ability concept embedded in the story, as the God candidates possess supernatural abilities but can only do so through the influence of a god. Each candidate is allowed to contract with any number of gods to gain power, and in reverse, a god can decide which player to become its champion through the course of the God Game.
2 Shinsu (Tower Of God)
|Author / Illustrator||SIU|
|Genre||Action, Dark Fantasy, Mystery, Supernatural|
Shinsu is a vital element of the Tower. It is a life essence produced by the Tower and used by its inhabitants. Shinsu has many uses and can provide different abilities and advantages to its users based on their knowledge, skill, and talent. There are two types of Shinsu: Natural and Man-Controlled, but the difference between them still needs to be clarified. Shinsu can only be controlled through Direct Control by highly talented individuals, contracts made with floor administrators, or items due to its volatility.
Shinsu can be controlled and manipulated into different elements or forms by finding 'Shinsu Qualities.' Those who can control and manipulate it without a contract or special items are called Irregulars. A Baang is the basic unit of Shinsu manipulation, measuring an individual's skill. Myun refers to the size of a Baang, and Soo is its concentration. Shinsu is a complex ability that plays a significant role in the Tower Of God series.
1 Charyeok (God of High School)
|Author / Illustrator||Yongje Park|
The power concept employed in the series is known as 'Charyeok,' which, when translated, means Borrowed Power. The concept borrows strength from supernatural entities, from gods to demons. The type of god an individual borrows its power determines the kind of power they will receive. By contracting with these supernatural entities, the user can shape it through their imagination as their unique ability.
The strength of a person's Charyeok is measured in God Points (GP), and the prolonged use of Charyeok will result in physical drawbacks such as fatigue. Charyeoks are gained mainly by proactive contracting and, in rare instances, are implanted into the user. Relatively easy to comprehend, the concept of Charyeok also leaves room for imagination, but, ironically, the story's protagonist doesn't use Charyeok as he turns out to be a god himself: Sun Wukong, The Monkey King.