Romance visual novels (often conflated with dating sims) tend to have a particular structure. In it, a white bread definitely-18 year-old boy is whisked away to a new setting because of some unusual circumstance; usually a high school of some description. Once there, he meets a harem of pretty girls—each emblematic of some archetypal trope—one or more of whom falls in love with him. He usually has few personality traits to maximise the reader’s ability to self-insert—although he is often sarcastic and prone to longwinded introspection. He is also bafflingly averse to the idea of a relationship (as if to say “we’re not just doing this so you can fuck the girls, we swear”) while invariably reducing the girls to their physical assets and the puzzle the reader must solve to get at them (as if to say “just kidding, we are”). Missing Stars is no different.
Palindromically-stylised author NISIOISIN’s Bakemonogatari (Monster Tale) is the collective title of five story arcs published over three volumes (two in the original Japanese print) that is the origin of the now-expansive Monogatari series. Like the title suggests, they are stories of monsters, ghosts, and other supernatural beings that its protagonist happens to encounter and subsequently deal with. The aberrations in question draw from various mythologies and folklores, ranging from obscure Japanese tales to more well-known Western publications. This is no horror story, however; Bakemonogatari is best described as equal parts occult mystery, comedy, and in-depth analysis of the human psyche.
Sparing the preamble, Kizumonogatari (or Wound Tale, to which it has been officially localised) opens with an elaborate, multi-page description of a gust of wind lifting the skirt of a high school girl and revealing her panties. Such are we thrust into the mindset of Koyomi Araragi, the girl’s classmate, and the narrator of the eponymous tale of wounds that we are about to explore.