The Struggle of the Stagnant Why Some Manga Characters Cant

The Struggle of the Stagnant: Why Some Manga Characters Can’t Level Up

If you’re an avid manga reader, you’ve likely come across a protagonist who appears to be stuck at the same level they were at the beginning of the story. The lack of character growth and a stagnant power level can be frustrating for both the reader and the character themselves. In this article, we’ll be delving into the reasons why some manga characters can’t level up, the impact it has on the story, and possible ways to prevent it.

1. Lack of Challenges

One of the most common reasons that manga characters can’t level up is because they lack challenges. Many manga series follow a formula where the protagonist faces progressively stronger opponents, and each victory leads to greater strength. However, if the protagonist faces weak opponents or easily overcomes their challenges, they won’t experience any significant growth.

For example, in the anime and manga series One Punch Man, the protagonist Saitama is so overwhelmingly strong that he can defeat any enemy with just one punch. His lack of challenges prevents him from experiencing any real growth, and as a result, his character stagnates.

2. Over-Powered Characteristics

Another reason some manga characters can’t level up is because they are too overpowered. Characters with traits that are too strong, such as being unbeatable or having powers that can accomplish anything, often find themselves not needing to improve themselves. This can cause their character to become stagnant, as they have no reason to grow.

For instance, in Fairy Tail, the protagonist Natsu Dragneel has the power of fire, which allows him to destroy most opponents with ease. This power becomes stronger throughout the series but does not provide enough obstacles for Natsu to face compelling challenges.

3. Stuck in the Same Mindset

Another aspect that can prevent character growth is their mindset. Many characters may be stuck in a particular mindset, and this can result in their inability to level up. This can come in the form of emotional baggage, outdated beliefs or values, or even a lack of ambition.

For example, in Naruto, the main protagonist, Naruto, is initially driven his desire to become the Hokage and gain recognition. However, over time, his priorities change, and his goals shift towards becoming stronger and protecting his friends. If Naruto had remained stuck in his original mindset, he likely would not have progressed as a character and guide his story.

4. Lack of Character Development

Another common reason that manga characters can’t level up is that they lack sufficient character development. Suppose a manga series doesn’t give their protagonist enough depth or backstory. In that case, it can be challenging for them to grow and make meaningful progress throughout the story.

In contrast, in the manga series My Hero Academia, each character has a well-developed backstory, personality, and set of goals that motivate them, leading to the progression of both secondary characters and the main one, Izuku Midoriya.

5. Too Rigid Plot

Lastly, a rigid plot can be a cause of stagnant characters. Some manga series have a preconceived notion of how the story should unfold, and as such, characters’ abilities and strengths become fixed. In this case, it’s incredibly challenging for a character to break free of their established role and grow.

For example, in The Seven Deadly Sins, one of the main characters, Diane, denotes a gigantic, powerful physique character. She is considered one of the strongest characters, but the storyline hardly focuses on her development, which led to a lack of growth throughout the series.

Preventive Measures

So, what are the possible ways that manga authors can prevent stagnant characters?

One way is introducing challenges separated from physical strength, such as emotional struggles, moral dilemmas, and relationships, giving manga characters reasons to keep growing beyond their physical skills. A well-rounded character needs more than just raw power.

Another method is to temper overpowering attributes adding limits or vulnerabilities, forcing characters to develop skills other than brute strength to overcome their limitations.

Sometimes, manga authors may need to shake their character’s mindset to create an opening for growth. Characters should also have a solid backstory that establishes their personality and motivations, or they may not be able to develop, making their previous abilities irrelevant.

Lastly, having a flexible plot can go a long way in this aspect. Giving characters room to grow beyond expectations and allowing them to break their preconceived roles can add depth to their characters, making the story more compelling overall.


Q: Why do manga characters’ stories often end before they achieve their final form?

A: Many manga authors write stories with open endings, leaving room for sequels or spinoffs, other times the narrative just completes before the character leveling up.

Q: Will stagnant characters remain stagnant for the entirety of a manga series?

A: Not always. Sometimes, characters may be stagnant for the majority of the series, but they still receive some significant character development towards the end.

Q: Does a manga protagonist necessarily have to progress over time for a story to be good?

A: Not at all, character progression is only one aspect of a story, and tons of manga series still succeed even without it.


In conclusion, stagnant characters in manga can be frustrating for the reader and the character themselves. The lack of growth and progression has many causes, from a lack of real challenges to overly-powerful characters, rigid plot, or poorly-developed backstory personalities, or set of goals that motivate them. To overcome such stagnation, authors can progress the character in ways beyond physical skill, add limits, or other challenges, rebuild characters’ preconceived notions about themselves, or have a flexible story. Regardless, manga protagonists don’t necessarily have to progress over time to make a story good. Ultimately, transformation isn’t required if it doesn’t serve the plot or the character.

By Manga