Post Plot Depression

Sad Depressed Anime Manga Character Crying

Post Plot Depression

Reminder: GSN = Game/Series/Novel

You may not have encountered the term before, but I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. You’ve just finished a good story. You sit back and revel in the afterglow of the experience, and then it hits you: You are never going to feel this way about this story again; you will never have another chance to truly bond with these characters. The universe that you have slowly built a picture of in your mind now ceases to grow.

You can read/watch whatever it was again, but your first time has been taken from you and it can never be recovered. Depending on the nature of the plot and any twists therein, the chances of you truly forgetting enough to enjoy the plot again are negligible. Because, let’s be honest, only the most memorable plots evoke this feeling.

And it doesn’t stop there. Post-Plot Depression (PPD) goes hand-in-hand with the Emotional Investment Refractory Period (EIRP). This one isn’t as straight forward, but bear with me. EIRP is that time during which you don’t really want to move onto anything else. You think things like “How could anything possibly compare to what I have just experienced?” Whatever you had planned to move on to just doesn’t seem as appealing any more. EIRP length varies widely depending on the person and the GSN they have just completed. It may last minutes for some, or hours, or even days in the most severe cases.

Since I’m feeling particularly scientific today, I would like to propose that a dose-response relationship exists between the quality of a GSN and the length of EIRP. That is to say: The better quality the GSN completed, the longer the length of the EIRP. The length of the GSN also has an effect; given two GSNs of the same quality, the longer GSN will result in a longer EIRP. It may seem like a fairly obvious idea, but I think it’s worth pointing out nonetheless.

Sad Depressed Anime Manga Character Angel Beats Otonashi Crying

I suppose the logical direction in which to continue this discussion would be looking at what can be done to minimise the EIRP, or perhaps avoid PPD altogether. And to those of you looking for those sorts of answers I have to ask: Why? PPD and EIRP aren’t pleasant to experience, certainly, but are they not indicators that you have just experienced something amazing? Would you really tell your past self to avoid the GSN that evoked your PPD response? I’m sure that most, if not all of you would answer that last question in the negative.

PPD is a natural response, as is the EIRP. In fact, the EIRP could be likened to the palette cleansers used at wine tastings. Perhaps after becoming emotionally invested in a story the EIRP functions to cleanse your mental palette so that you can properly enjoy the next GSN you choose to experience. Previously, I have tried to push past the EIRP and start a new GSN anyway. It can definitely be done, but even as I start the new GSN I find myself thinking back to the last one, which I believe has an overall negative impact on my new experience (a small one, but it’s there).

So what can you do? PPD is something I only really suffer from after finishing a long, story-heavy GSN, so what I’ve been doing lately is switching to lighter, more comedic GSNs that don’t really require any emotional investment to enjoy. This means that, while I still lament the conclusion of the other GSN, I don’t stop to dwell on the emptiness I feel (well, not as much anyway), and I can also move on to the next GSN feeling refreshed and able to fully enjoy the experience. Maybe that won’t work for some of you, but it works for me.

In any case the experiences of PPD and EIRP vary between individuals. Perhaps some of you will have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, and I have no idea whether you are lucky or not. Are such people immune to PPD, or do they simply not enjoy their GSNs as much as others? Certainly, the ability to connect and empathise with fictional characters is a necessary one in order for PPD to affect you, so would those without such an ability be missing out? My answer is yes. PPD is a negative phenomenon, but it cannot occur without an overwhelmingly positive experience. It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all, as they say.

Can you relate to what i’m talking about? Let me know in the comments below! What caused your worst case of PPD?


About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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20 Responses to Post Plot Depression

  1. Annalyn says:

    It’s been a while since I last experienced a series that evoked PPD. Sometimes, it’s not PPD that I experience so much as a deep satisfaction. I just want to sit in my chair and savor the feelings and memories from the anime series or book, and I refuse to move on. Kind of like how I don’t want to drink water right after I eat a good chocolate; I want to savor it until it dissolves completely. Then I hunt down any related series. If I come up empty, I find something else to drown my sorrows in – usually a comedy like Wagnaria!.

    I have often experienced a subtype of PPD that comes every time Naruto Shippuden takes a break from the good plot parts (or, should I say, every time the break from fillers is over). It is accompanied by deep bitterness and frustration that results in me staging a one-girl strike, as I am now, yet knowing that I’ll eventually give in and catch up, fillers and all.

    • Silvachief says:

      I had some extreme PPD after having finished everything to do with the Fate/Stay Night world (Visual Novel, 2 Animes, Crossover Anime). And I get exactly what you’re saying about the satisfaction aspect. If I were going to continue to develop the idea of PPD I would say that, like the spectrum of sadness leading to actual depression, the feelings you experience after finishing a series can range from normal to pathological. With the normal being a choice to avoid anything heavy while you enjoy the aftertaste of what you have just finished, and the pathological being the inability to enjoy anything new (ie. PPD).

      As for the latter half of your comment, perhaps we could call that feeling Significant Plot Withdrawal (SPW)? Or perhaps I should quit the Geek illness game while i’m ahead >.>

      • Annalyn says:

        No need to quit! I must agree with the spectrum development, and the SPW proposal carries some weight… I enjoy posts that make something “serious,” like a Geek illness, out of what initially appears to be, well, non-serious. ^_^

  2. Yeah, I can fully relate to the feeling, since I written about this in the past. However, now that I have experience so many series, PPD seems just to be a momentary and passing feeling rather than lingering for a couple of days like it use to. I think my first serious case of PPD was with the visual novel Ever17 and just remember feeling how emotionally draining it was just finishing it. I was satisfied, but just in awe of how brilliant everything went in the final route. I could say the same of Zegapain, which is one of my favorite anime series. Although, today, after I finish a really good GSN, I am always ready for another one rather than experience PPD or maybe that is just my way of dealing with…

    • Silvachief says:

      Hm, I wonder if it is something that you just get used to. I’ve just started reading Visual Novels, which for me are the ultimate form of story delivery and therefore the most likely medium to afflict me with PPD, so maybe i’ll develop a tolerance for it once i’ve been reading them for a while. If i’m going to continue with the medical similes, I could probably say that developing tolerance to PPD might be like developing tolerance for certain medications, where the same amount of emotional stimulus fails to evoke a PPD response after repeated stimulation. Ever17 didn’t quite give me PPD, but I agree with you that the ending was superb (I certainly hadn’t picked up on the plot twist by the time it showed up).
      I haven’t seen Zegapain, so I shall add it to my list of series to watch =)

      • It maybe and then it also depends on how the medium is executed as well. Experiences are a tricky little nuances when it comes to different mediums and how someone will receive them makes a huge differences. But yes, you might have just gotten use to it as well. Everything has it strengths and weakness.

        However, besides the story, I think the reason why Ever17 gave me PPD was because it was sort of the first VN I read, too. This was back like five years ago, before I was seriously into them like I am now. I did read others, but that one kind of stood out and impressed me in ways I can not exactly describe. It was a good feeling.

        Also, I highly suggest it. It has been a while, since I watched it last (like my Junior year of HS), but still have fond memories of it. I am working on a recommendation list on my blog (which I am taking a break from), but once I have the parts post, you are more than happy to give it a view to see if anything catches your eye. Even though my taste are somewhat bizzare :3

        • Silvachief says:

          I understand exactly what you mean about your first VN. Mine was technically Aselia The Eternal, but at that point I hadn’t realized VNs existed. What I really regard as my first was Kira Kira, which I still really enjoy thinking about (and even listen to the BGM from time to time).
          I’ll be sure to give it a look! I’ll probably end up doing something similar for The Geek Clinic at some point, but for the moment i’m concentrating on my posts.

          • It is always the first one that gets to you. Kira Kira was pretty good, but I have yet to play the sequel. Still busy with all the other Japanese titles and older games on my list.
            I will be looking forward to them then. I especially liked this one.

            Btw: Already gave you an entry on my blogroll ^^

  3. Kai says:

    The GSN had to be extreme in quality and quantity for me to really get PPD and EIRP, and in my case, it’s more severe in gaming, visual novels, light novels (anything that requires more time to finish). The way I remedy this is, whenever I’m experiencing PPD from a GSN, I tend to switch to other more lighter mediums that are shorter and quicker to finish, like say anime or manga. PPD is more of a positive feeling then a negative one however, as only the best of the best would be able to pull it’s viewers and connect with them.

    Actually, as we speak, I’m currently experiencing a gaming PPD. Just recently, I finished Xenoblade, in a whooping 100+ hours game time (with still a lot of quests left out). It was exhausting, but at the other end of that achievement, I feel attached to the story, characters, and of cause, it’s beautiful world. Due to this, I probably won’t be playing any games soon, in fact, I haven’t play any major ones for weeks.. month even, lol.

    • Silvachief says:

      You’re right about the extreme quality thing. The only major things i’ve played lately that have given me PPD are F/SN, G-Senjou no Maou, Sharin no Kuni and Little Busters!, which also happen to be my four favorite VNs 😉 I haven’t had any video games do it to me lately since i’ve been slogging through Persona 3 (gotta love tartarus =( ). I think that PPD can be classed as a positive feeling, since it reflects the completion of a great story, but the EIRP can be rather annoying in my experience. When experiencing it I find myself starting something new and then deciding 5 minutes later that I don’t want to play it any more…over and over again. It dampens my ability to enjoy new things, since I haven’t gotten over the old yet.

      I’m testing my emulator at the moment, so hopefully playing Xenoblade isn’t too far off. Do you have any troubles with the sound when using Dolphin? Also, where do you get your roms from?

      • Kai says:

        Ahh indeed, those are pretty major visual novels you mentioned, with high quality content and big amount of gameplay hours. Let’s see if you can get gaming PPD once you finished Persona 3 ;p My EIRP doesn’t seem to be so serious. Even after I finished a major game for example, it seems I can accept minor games that can be completed in a quick while, or perhaps some other mediums like anime or manga which can be finished quicker too.

        Should be fine. I don’t really have much sound issues when playing Xenoblade. But the most sound issues you would probably had is audio buzzing sounds but even that is quite minor. I find that the game I find most problematic with running smoothly is The Last Story, laggy (even more then the original) frame rates, laggy and buzzing audios, and frequent freezes. Had to use save states for that, lol. But like I said, I didn’t find much problem with running Xenoblade, in fact, quite smoothly.

        I got most of mine from torrents, lol. But I think you can probably get most of them through here
        Emuparadise would probably has them too.

        • Silvachief says:

          Gah! WordPress identified your comment as spam and I had to rescue it >.<

          I don't think Persona will give me PPD. While I would say that I am enjoying it, it won't make my list of favourite games. And yeah, smaller games are fine, ones that you know you aren't going to have to put much effort into.

          I'll definitely be trying the emulators out soon, so wish me luck!

  4. anonNerd says:

    I suffer this from time to time.

    Just yesterday, I finished Grisaia no Kajitsu, well, just the Yumiko route. This sensation tends to hit me only with visual novels. Even if the ending is happy, they always seem to have something depressive, and Yumiko was… yeah.

    Then, if the music is good, it can be worse. I’ve been listening to the piano pieces of Grisaia’s OST a lot, and the feelings come back. It’s a hollow kind of sensation, as if depressive. As if I just lost myself, my way. And at the moment, this happened right before an important business trip. Not the best of moments.

    I want to re-read some of the scenes, because of how much of an impact they had. But doesn’t seem like I will be able to until I’m back home.

    • Silvachief says:

      Grisaia is one that I haven’t given any time to yet, though it’s certainly on my list.

      It’s actually impressive how well a good BGM can re-evoke the feelings of a particular scene. If it’s done really well and the feel of the music itself overlaps with the feel of the scene then you can end up reliving it for months (or possibly even years) afterwards just by listening to the song. There’s one particular track from the Kira Kira BGM that always gets me.

      • fire says:

        This is very true. Those pieces of music that accompanied a particular VN scene, and thus your emotional response to it, will tend to evoke echoes of your original feelings.

        For me, there’s FSN’s Ever-Present Feeling, G-Senjou’s Close Your Eyes, and now – Comyu’s Inner Rain & Run.

        Actually, wouldn’t the same pieces of music evoke the same feeling – for fans of the same VN? I presume that they’ll have reacted similarly to the same, moving scene. Do you recall this to be the case for yourself, for FSN and G-Senjou?

        • Silvachief says:

          Close Your Eyes is a major one for me, actually. It was long time before I could listen to that without vividly recalling what I felt at the end of G-Senjou no Maou. I had to look up Ever-Present feeling since I wasn’t collecting BGM at the time I played FSN, but it definitely brought back some memories.

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