The Struggle of Stagnation Tales from a Manga Protagonist Who

The Struggle of Stagnation: Tales from a Manga Protagonist Who Can’t Level Up

The Problem of Stagnation

The most frustrating thing for any manga protagonist is stagnation. No matter how hard they try, they seem stuck at the same level. They can’t move forward or make progress. It’s a common trope in manga, but it’s an issue in real life as well. Whether you’re a gamer, athlete, or student, hitting a plateau can be discouraging. You can’t help but wonder what you’re doing wrong.

But why do people stagnate? There are many reasons: lack of motivation, lack of resources, lack of structure. But for manga protagonists, the most common cause is lack of experience points (XP).

Experience Points

In many video games and roleplaying games, experience points (XP) are a way of measuring progress. Players gain XP completing quests or defeating foes, and as they accumulate more points, they level up. This allows them to access new abilities or equipment, and makes them stronger overall. It’s a simple system, but it’s effective in making players feel like they’re making progress.

But in the world of manga, leveling up isn’t so easy. Protagonists can’t just grind away at monsters until they hit the next level. They have to face personal challenges and overcome obstacles. This can be more difficult than defeating a boss monster, because the protagonist has to confront their own flaws and shortcomings.

The Hero’s Journey

A common plot structure in manga (and other types of stories) is the hero’s journey. This is a narrative pattern in which the protagonist goes on a quest or mission, faces trials and tribulations, and ultimately emerges transformed. Joseph Campbell, a scholar of mythology, identified this structure as a universal pattern in human storytelling.

The hero’s journey is a way of exploring the human experience. It shows how we face challenges, overcome obstacles, and develop as individuals. But it’s not always a smooth path. Protagonists often get stuck at various stages of the journey, and have to find a way to break through.

The Importance of Support

One of the keys to overcoming stagnation is having support. Protagonists often have mentors or friends who help them along the way. These characters provide guidance, encouragement, and sometimes a swift kick in the pants. They can also serve as sounding boards for the protagonist’s ideas and plans.

In real life, we also need support in order to grow and develop. This can come from friends, family, teachers, or coaches. It’s important to have people who believe in us and can help us stay on track.

The Role of Failure

Another aspect of the hero’s journey is failure. Protagonists don’t always succeed on the first try. They may fail multiple times before finally achieving their goal. This can be frustrating, but it’s also necessary for growth. Failure teaches us what doesn’t work, and forces us to reassess our approach.

In fact, some experts argue that failure is essential for mastery. Psychologist Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” writes that “the very things that made them [successful people] eventual champions made them initially struggle.” She cites numerous examples of athletes and artists who faced setbacks and failures before achieving greatness.

The Tao of the Protagonist

So what can we learn from manga protagonists who can’t level up? First, we need to embrace the hero’s journey. We need to recognize that progress isn’t always linear, and that stagnation is a normal part of growth. Second, we need to seek support. We can’t do it alone. Third, we need to accept failure as part of the process.

But perhaps the most important lesson is to cultivate a Tao of the protagonist. In other words, we need to adopt the mindset of an adventurer. We need to be open to new experiences, willing to take risks, and curious about the world around us. This will help us stay motivated and engaged, even in the face of obstacles.


Q: How can I level up faster in manga?

A: Unlike in video games, there is no set way to level up in manga. The protagonist must face personal challenges and overcome obstacles. But you can increase your chances of success seeking guidance from mentors or friends, and staying motivated and curious.

Q: What if I feel like I’m stuck at the same level forever?

A: It’s normal to hit a plateau in any endeavor. The key is to stay persistent and keep trying new things. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or reassess your approach.

Q: What if I’m not sure what my personal challenges are?

A: Take some time to reflect on your goals and values. What matters to you? What are you passionate about? What are some obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your dreams? These questions can help you identify areas for growth.


The struggle of stagnation is a universal problem. Whether you’re a manga protagonist or a real-life adventurer, you will encounter obstacles and setbacks. But embracing the hero’s journey, seeking support, accepting failure, and cultivating a Tao of the protagonist, you can overcome stagnation and achieve your goals. Remember, leveling up isn’t just about gaining XP. It’s about gaining experience and wisdom.

By Manga