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A 29 year old civil employment exam student wakes up in a blank white room and meets a baby angel. This baby angel informs him that he died in his sleep due to heart disease like his father and grandfather. Remembering his mom and their last conversation he says that he will take on a series of life and death tests that the baby angel offers him. From this point on he must put his life on the line and fight in the stage called ‘Arena’. And Every time he clears a test he will have the ability to gain abilities and weapons to increase his strength to clear all the tests and get his life back. This is his story of his fights in the ‘Arena’.

Arena average rating 4.3/5 - 316 user ratings
Associated Names
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Related Series
Life Mission (8)
Seoul Station’s Necromancer (8)
Reincarnator (7)
The King of the Battlefield (6)
Dimensional Sovereign (6)
Evolution Theory of the Hunter (5)

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22 Reviews sorted by

New Asterism rated it
March 5, 2017
Status: c67
3 rated down to 2.5

While some of the concepts the mc comes up are pretty entertaining, I just couldn't get into it even though I kept on reading. I'm going to drop this here. I enjoyed him using the wind spirit as an aim bot.

First of all, I do not like how the mc thinks - he's somewhat a mix between a wimp and someone who just came onto power. His attitude is really sexist - he assumes women are weaker even though he lives in a world where people... more>> can upgrade their physique or even gain benefits from the arena; the author makes him clever, but he's not really intelligent. He seems to get stupider as every chapter is written.

Some his interactions are kinda cringe-worthy.

And he lacks lethality and ruthlessness, even though he seems to material to be the ultimate assassin. If I was in his place, with his skills, I would already be OP. Ie. In the forest with all the monkeys, I would have created a delayed poison and put it at where they are eating or in the water or even disperse it downwind. Or just use the convenience of the system to cheaply synthesize nerve gas; the world you are going into isn't Earth, so it's use is not really restricted. Very easy with his stealth and wind spirit. Wipe them all out for max contribution.

The gangster should have just been removed at the beginning, it would take < 1s with the MC's abilities. Someone like that would just cause more suffering and trouble and be a hindrance in the future. <<less
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TheJudge rated it
September 3, 2016
Status: c55
Decent novel, similar to gantz. Story is about a dropout/failure that dies while sleeping, but wakes up in another place with a 2nd chance to live. He meets all new people and befriends them, just when you think all is well, BOOM. This is where it went downhill, the characters he met prior were likable, now we are left with annoying clingy family members and fangirls fawning over the MC because he's strong, rich and so on. Bascially the arc after is about MC bragging how baller he is. Give... more>> it a rest already and move on, we get it; Korean people are gold diggers and quite superficial.

It's a decent read if you filter out the useless fillers. <<less
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oblueknighto rated it
June 6, 2016
Status: c30
It's an amazing novel which is has a unique setting. The main character's skills are kind of underwhelming at first but that also makes it interesting.
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craBebe rated it
June 3, 2016
Status: c27
Got ourselves another RPG Death-game. If you've read Gantz or Terror Infinity and are looking for more of the same this is a good one to go with. Only downside is the chapter release rate.

Story's good so far and I see a tremendous amount of potential for the future, interested to see just which direction the author wants to take this series.

All in all, a solid read and I recommend it to anyone who's a fan of the death-game genre.
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TerraEarth rated it
October 3, 2016
Status: --
Surprisingly good. If you've read Terror Infinity then the premise is similar, but unlike TI, Arena is internally consistent and flows smoother.

For once I actually feel invested in the character's emotions, their interactions with one another, their motivations for living on, so on so forth. The characters aren't just throwaway stand-in roles, they feel vibrant and real. Heck, even the side characters are very memorable and dare I say it, endearing.

There are some minor problems that I have with the story, but overall it's written quite well. A few... more>> issues I had:


Many of the abilities in Arena don't scale with training, which is somewhat disappointing since in a lot of other ways the world in which they live is essentially an RPG. For example, the MC's spirit summons (such as sylph) have a usage timer, however that timer doesn't increase as your proficiency with the spirit increases, neither does the strength of the spirit. Although the spirit summon is in and of itself a skill, you can't quite 'level' it up without spending karma. It's a minor point but I do feel icky about this. On a second note about spirit summons, it is a little annoying that the MC can't telepathically communicate with the spirit. It makes no sense to me why this isn't implemented.



MC gives in too easily to feminine wiles I feel. The moment someone starts flirting with him and he crumbles. I was honestly somewhat disappointed when after his entire team got killed off, one of the members even going so far to sacrifice himself to help him escape, the first thing he does is get himself seduced by some side character who really doesn't have much going for her. It's somewhat distasteful. I can't see this as being anything more than a fling but it seems like the author plans to flesh this relationship out more with how clingy and dependent he has become on her.

I feel that this is an especially big slap to the face to the reader, when just a few chapters ago the MC was holding hands with and bonding with a girl whom he was close to that fought in the arena with him. The girl that seduces the MC is only interested in him for shallow reasons whereas the other girl who was his companion was anything but shallow. She grew together with the MC and they had a good vibe going, so it left a bad taste in my mouth when as soon as she gets killed off he jumps into bed with this vixen seductress who has played with many men in her day (and enjoys bragging about it, even to the MC).



Some of the descriptions of the skills feel dumbed down. For example, when they explain the upgrading of a person's physical traits, they broadly categorize it as: level 1 (healthy male), level 2(athlete), level 3(soldier), level 4(elite soldier), level 5(beyond human limits). However I doubt that soldiers are more physically capable than athletes, for whom training their bodies is their job. Foot soldiers are usually trained in certain skills but I wouldn't place their physical prowess over athletes. I'm pretty sure that most soldiers can't outswim michael phelps, or outsprint Usain bolt, or outdunk kobe, etc. Just little things like this occur everywhere in the novel and it's somewhat annoying to see them pop up from time to time. It isn't a huge deal though so it's not too big of a setback.

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crazykat rated it
May 1, 2016
Status: --
Some what similar to Terror infinity. Might even be better at some of the points then terror infinity. The translator has done a great job!
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ranstorm rated it
February 11, 2017
Status: c67
Finally a refreshing survival game novel. We don't see too much back-stabbing and situations where humans are more dangerous than monsters. For once, we have a novel where the MC focuses on monsters and other enemies instead of fighting other humans in a survival game novel.

There are many good things about this novel. The survival game isn't about screwing over the players or having the participants fight and kill each other but it has some aim which is still unknown. That adds a bit of mystery. The novel is very... more>> consistent. We don't find situations where humans have to fight and kill each other for loot and other reasons often(MC has killed 1 person so far). Also the MC has to solve problems using both intellect and power. The MC isn't ridiculously OP but quite powerful and uses his brain properly. Also there aren't any ridiculous plot armors like we see in some other novels.

It takes the form of exams and these exams take place in an alternative world and the effect it has on the residents living on Earth is minimal. The MC has to alternate between the worlds and also has time to rest between exams.

MC's character development was also done nicely. The MC isn't immune to mistakes and makes them at times and even pays for those mistakes and learns from them. So far there's no sign of any harem and I don't think there will be one for those concerned.

The only thing in this novel that I think is lacking is the romance. I think it just came too quickly and it felt kind of forced....

All in all I recommend this novel and rate it 5.

Waiting for more chapters ;-; <<less
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RANTMAN rated it
April 11, 2016
Status: --
15 chapters in and I am really enjoying this novel. Reminds me of Terror Infinity without the movie theme, which is a plus for me. The MC’s thought process is logical and his character isn’t overdone. I am looking forward to future releases.
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Hantosh rated it
December 8, 2016
Status: c67
Similar to Gantz, life fail MC dies and is forced to play a death game with RPG elements on another world named Arena.

- Great writing. Can't stress this enough. Genuinely funny dialogue. Non-archetypal, interesting characters. His family members are great. Normally in this genre the game/dungeon chapters are where the meat is and the civilian life intermissions suffer from blandness/genericness. Not this story, the out-of-game chapters are just as interesting. Lots of detail is given to flesh out the world and characters.
- Great character development. Characters feel... more>> real. Believable MC; isn't a blank slate, blatant self-insert, silent robot archetype.
- Power system is consistent and easy to understand.

- The first couple of chapters with the first mission feels kind of forced and abrupt (unnatural). If you can get past that though, you're in for a treat.

Wasn't expecting much, so this was a surprise. Got quite a few laughs. Definitely worth a read. <<less
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ZhaWarudo rated it
July 21, 2016
Status: c42
I say this is the best apocalypse game elements novel so far translated. Previously I thought it was Terrory infinity but when I caught up to Starship Troopers, it just became comrade this and that + MC being stupid. Needless to say we have a smart MC here and no harem!

It's a shame about the lack of chaps but I can say it definitely doesn't and won't have many of the GODW's faults. I have only made a comparison but so what, you know what to expect out of this... more>> kind of novel, describing it would be hard without spoiling. It doesn't have a late start so if you don't like the first few chaps... <<less
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Hussey274 rated it
July 10, 2016
Status: c38
Arena is vastly different from all the other novels I've read so far. Why? Because rather than reincarnating after death, some of the chosen dead are given an extension in life. It feels more like a death RPG but in real life. What makes this story good is it's concept. It's pretty cool and has loads of potential to become a great novel. It has many fantasy elements and like a game, rewards are given based on the completion of the game.

There are some negative points in the story for... more>> me, as the MC too heavily relies on his spirit as he completely allows it to handle his ranged shooting abilities. He however is a good leader and great at handling adverse situations. There are also some parts of the story, where it is needlessly dragged with trying to add daily life action and hitting on girls, useless chatter and trying to be funny scenes. But still this is a great novel, and a recommended read!

Concept: 9.8/10
Plot: 8.9/10
Characters: 8/10
Action: 7/10
Translation: 9.7/10
Overall: 9/10 <<less
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ladyartemis rated it
June 28, 2016
Status: c37
Amazing! Awesome! Fantastic!!! I was thrilled to read this since it's my first time to encounter a unique setting combined with my fave "reincarnation-type" genre. The story flow is also very good. The MC is not a pushover, so i am so happy. Please continue to translate this! Thanks
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ScotlandForsythe rated it
November 8, 2016
Status: c65
I love this novel. It might not be others cup of tea because it isn't exactly as thriller as say, Terror Infiniity, and it isn't as technical as some stories like Life Mission. But I believe it has its own charm.

I personally like his personality and the humor of the other characters. It is light-hearted and dark interchangeably. There are some really cute moments, but a huge mysterious factor surrounding the arena, and I believe that even though it might not be another's cup of tea, it is still a... more>> great read. (Especially if you are binge reading it).

The main character isn't the ruthless type, but he is a good thinker and strategist and he is a naturally kind-hearted person. The side characters are often humorous and have certain traits that make them more than two dimensional (fortunately).

Story wise you may feel it is over done, but it is different than others. It can be slow, but everything comes together nicely.

Hope you give it a chance. I also hope it updates soon. TT-TT <<less
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yamikage rated it
August 4, 2016
Status: c45
Read this! it's good! the characters are interesting, there's no plot armor for villains, the story can still be digged deeper with lots of potential.

The choice of the character main skill is most likely an insult to the same genre type of character that all of a sudden choose melee combat. It's a definite good read.
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thirst rated it
May 24, 2016
Status: c24
Recent chapters an improvement over early ones, so if you're just starting the series, it gets better .

The MC putting in a lot of hard work to make the most of his second chance, although still makes mistakes. The two worlds in parallel interesting & well done, with actions in one impacting on the other in a satisfying way
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smite2001 rated it
February 17, 2017
Status: c67
I like it a lot. And I gave many Korean novels a chance and ended up seriously disliking them for a number of reasons (incl. LMS and other popular ones). If you feel in a similar way, here are some things this novel makes better:

The protagonist does not reject teaming up with others for no apparent reasons.
The protagonist is not a money grubber for no apparent reason.
The protagonist is not dense/follows a weird moral code to the point that it prevents any sort of romance.
Not all foreigners... more>> are arrogant, evil people for no reason, and the author does not really show any obvious personal hostilty towards other nations.
The comedy is actually OK (sometimes).

I am not saying everything is great, but there are no negative points that I feel obliged to point out specifically. It is just sad that it seems to have been abandoned translation-wise for some time now, and I hope it gets picked up again by someone soon. <<less
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newbage rated it
January 20, 2017
Status: c67
Some Reviews have compared Arena to Gantz. That's only true on a superficial level. The protagonist is selected to participate in a series of "examinations" in a parallel dimensions after he dies. There's a point based item/skill acquisition system where the points you get depend on your performance in a mission. Characters return to the normal world between missions. That's about all there is in terms of similarity. IMO Arena is even better than Gantz

Difference 1: Unlike gantz, there isn't gratuitous violence or sex. There is violence and it can... more>> be graphic. But it's not a full-throttle sadistic gore fest. Rather, it's realistic and potentially brutal -- which means it's far less psychologically exhausting to take in large doses. Major characters do die and it's made all the more impactful by the next point of difference. There is also sex, but it's realistically motivated and mature rather than exploitative.

Difference 2: The characters, world building, and character interactions are thoughtful and well-rounded. I it's better than in than Gantz and way way way better than the standard for web and light novels. All of the characters are 3 dimensional. The author actually takes time to describe settings and people. Motivations are realistic. The main character has depth and an actual (likable) personality . He's also genuinely intelligent. This isn't like other web/light novels where the author merely tells us "the MC is intelligent" and makes other characters act stupidly so that the MC can stand out. Most importantly he UNDERGOES CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT (hallelujah!). Government, other institutions, and non-examinees in the real world behave in a realistic fashion as well with regard to the existence of the 'Arena'.

Difference 3: This is not a sadistic "death game". The mysterious power responsible for sending the examinees to the exams have a mysterious goal and are offering the examineese a second lease on life in exchange for undertaking significant personal risk in helping them achieve it. The 'exams' are NOT meant to torment or weed out the participants, but are rather missions that will somehow further the divine beings' overall (mysterious) goal. As of chapter 67, it seems as if whatever higher being(s) is/are running the exams is/are either benign or outright benevolent.

The most recent test involves zero combat and zero death. The MC comments on how peaceful it was and than that the examiners were probably compensating him for his suffering from the previous exam


Difference 4: The 'Arena' where the exams happen is in an alternate, medieval fantasy parallel universe. It's not a an arena like a coliseum or anything. The examinees are gated into this alternate world and an "exam" is basically a quest with a time limit. It isn't like in gantz where the participants were basically anti-alien pest control being telported to different places on earth to kill alien refugees/infiltrators/invaders. In arena, a mission can last days or months in the other world. The objective of each mission is related to prior (and probably future) missions and tend to be more than just "kill x monsters in area y." When they return to earth, it is 11am still the morning after they left.

Overall, Arena is definitely worth a read. I highly recommend it. <<less
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freakiepoh rated it
August 27, 2016
Status: c53
By no means is Arena an amazing piece of literature or anything of that sort but it is definitely among the better light novels out there. I have certain gripes with the series but it has been an enjoyable read up to the latest chapter. Death is to be expected and I love how the MC deals with it. He doesn't brush it off and forgets about it the next day. He is constantly contemplating his actions and the deaths of others. Other reincarnation/transported novels often have the MC be... more>> completely fine with death despite previously being a completely regular person which I find fucking stupid.

MC personality isn't anything special but he's more interesting than many of the dense Gary Stus out there. I like how he actually has a proper family and there are proper interactions among them. It's too common of a trope to be an orphan/have a family who doesn't care about you. <<less
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Guymaioh rated it
September 3, 2016
Status: c50
One of my top survival novels - As the rewards scheme in completing a mission is this novel is not straight forward. I'm enjoying how the MC is not totally OP albeit with some nice set of skills, but he isn't omnipotent, and is basically struggling forward. The plot is getting more interesting by the chapter, and it really does have that intense, fast paced rhythm.

It has gaming elements but not one that overshadow the story - and there's a lot of retrospective and learning from ones mistakes on... more>> a mission. <<less
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Boon rated it
August 27, 2016
Status: c52
Excellent novel. I had been putting this off because the chapters were so short. Warning to others, the chapters are only about ~1300 words if I remember correctly.

It starts out as your standard 'survival with rpg elements' story, but despite this widely used genre, it manages to be original and in no way formulaic. Characters, story, humor, worldbuilding, so far are all top notch, despite the current low word count.

I rate this somewhere between king of the battlefield and reincarnator, perhaps better than both. I highly recommend this.
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Buffelephant rated it
August 8, 2016
Status: c48
This novel has a certain spark that captivates attention. It has the same premise of Gantze or Terror Infinity except, the protagonist remains connected to society. The story takes the character to a world were death comes at a notice moment. It is still the beginning of the story so the story right now is mainly world building and explanation. Action is present still and we readers can see how easily this story will turn into adrenalin rich text. The story also has a built in respite after such a... more>> rush because the mc is still attached to his family and society. It gives the story premis for which the mc draws his attachment to survival.

The power system hasn't been fully explained. For instance,

why does the mc have a summoning skill option that's special, when others don't?

It does however fit logically within the premis of the story and allows the story to generate a ton of action. The characters get some power, based on karma they improve themselves. Karma is awarded based on how well they survive in this fantasy death world.

The main problem I see with this story is a slight lack of emotional attachment, from us readers and even the mc, to the side characters. The story has its death at any moment environment. We expect some people to die. Actually, we expect lots of people to die. The characters are cool and not necessarily flat. Yet, if one or two disappear they won't be missed.

This could be that the story hasn't progressed too far, so not enough bonds have been made to care about these side characters. It could be a problem all translated works have, that information is always lost in translation. For now, we don't really show much reaction to someone's death. The mc hasn't reacted much to death either. He seems like he could easily turn into a psychopath if he didn't get returned back to society after each round, and he's only been to 3 rounds (basically a noob) so far.

The translator seems to be doing a great job so far at translating this novel. I haven't checked the Korean to English translation to see how well they are doing, but the story flows well in English. <<less
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