- "It isn't what I want but I'll be a creature of darkness to see my goals reached, if that is what it takes. My actions won't inspire hope, but what I do will be for the greater good. Maybe others will find the light in my actions. You see... I'm a son of Kenji and Ino. Straddling good and evil is what I was born to do."
- —Hotaru to an unnamed Shinigami of the Kido Corps whom Hotaru murdered.[src]
|Previous Affiliation||Ryū Order|
|Base of Operations||9th Division barracks|
Hotaru Hiroshi (ホタル浩, Hiroshi Hotaru), initially known strictly as Yoshiro Shiba before going public with his identity, is a time displaced world-travelling Visored. He is the son of Kenji and Ino Hiroshi, twin to Akira, and the brother to Shinrei, Arisa, Kentaro and Kay. Hotaru secretly sides with The Coven, whilst masquerading as the 9th Seat of the 9th Division in the Gotei 13. Hotaru served firstly under Captain Kazuya Kuchiki, followed thereafter by acting-Captain Shūhei Hisagi, and finally Captain Sajin Komamura.
In his own world Hotaru was a member of his father's Ryū Order, where he served as one of the "Dedicated" (専用, Senyō) during the First Spiritual War waged against Averian; a particularly powerful and ancient Arrancar. He was one of the few to face his father's impostor and not be killed or incapacitated, and even saved his younger siblings from him. During the tumultuous events of The Collapse, Hotaru and Akira where inadvertently affected by the spell cast by their uncle when the latter saved Yori Hisagi and Naoko Izuru, resulting in them being flung into an alternate world. Instead of remaining in the shadows Hotaru sought out distant relatives to the Shiba clan and quietly murdered them, allowing him to assume their identities that eventually allowed him to infiltrate the Gotei 13. This was a course of action Akira strongly disagreed with, but reluctantly went along with, though it served to drive the first of many wedges between the twins.
Hotaru has a singular private goal: to return not only his brother but himself to their own world, and he has few qualms about laying another world to ruin to see his goal achieved. His primary goal is the Ōin, which was identified as one of seven Kyūtai in his own world, which possesses the power he seeks. On the outside he is a secretive member of The Coven; a society of Kidō specialists that have come together to bring about a change in governance within the spiritual and material worlds. Hotaru has identified himself as an Aristoi (重畳仙 (アリスト), Arisuto; Greek for "Best", Japanese for "Great Mage") in private, and is speculated by Van Satonaka to take his orders from Sakae. Van, however, got this the wrong way around: Sakae answers to Hotaru, and leads a faction of the organisation answering to Hotaru known aptly as "Hotaru's Witches". In addition to commanding his own followers Hotaru directed them to secretly inflame the Evening Primrose cult to serve as a distraction, specifically to distract the 9th Division.
For himself he has adopted Averian's role as a harbinger of chaos, which has also pitted himself against his younger twin. As such he has since adopted the self-styled moniker "Lord of Chaos" (卿の混迷, Kyou no Konmei) which, ironically, was the same name once used by Averian.
As nearly identical twins Hotaru and Akira share the same basic appearance, with Hotaru being noted to be broad-shouldered. Hotaru, however, is noted to be slightly rougher in his appearance, sporting long hair that falls freely to his back and rough stubble; in fact, it has been said that the two are similar enough that hair length was usually the easiest way to tell them apart.. Hotaru is noted to have Ino's soft features yet the hard eyes of Kenji. Like almost every member of the Ninth Division past and present, Hotaru wears a sleeveless kosode. Ever since travelling to an alternate world Hotaru has commonly used his Hollow mask as a disguise, which was something Kenji and Van came to suspect but could not prove.
When requiring a more long-lasting disguise Hotaru uses his Zanpakutō to alter his physical appearance through complex illusion rather than relying on his Hollow mask, as shown when he appeared before Michael Davis and Jenna Sheppard. The disguise used in that instance, which took the physical appearance of his world's Van Satonaka, has Hotaru adopt long white-coloured hair tied up in a ponytail, a wiry physique, white kimono and blue haori, and a slight increase in height and muscle. He tends to use the Van disguise when he expects long battles.
- "... Let the Lord of Chaos rule."
- —Hotaru to Akira.[src]
Kenji described Hotaru and Akira as being as different as night and day in their core aspects. It has also been said that he tends to take more after Kenji than Ino -- it should come as no surprise that Kenji, especially in his youth, was bloodthirsty and violent and it was known that his enemies rarely escaped with their lives. Like his father Hotaru was also hard-line in dealing with his opponents though he didn't tend to play with his opposition the way Kenji would. Unlike Akira, who idolised their father, Hotaru saw a role model in their father's fiercest rival: Van Satonaka. When Hotaru eventually fought Van's counterpart he remarked afterwards that it was typical of any counterpart of Van's to fight like a "bloody demon", and that he wasn't shocked by this development.
As a child Hotaru proved to be mischievous and somewhat cruel; he frequently tormented his younger sister, often necessitating some manner of threat from his father for him to behave himself. His cruelness was reinforced in later life: not only did Hotaru murder innocents so that he and his brother could assume their identities, but he also showed delight at the prospect of sicking the modified Kensei on Captain Rose and Lieutenant Hisagi. Despite his attitude and questionable actions, Hotaru nevertheless loves Akira. He placed himself in-front of his brother during the violent throes of The Collapse without hesitation, and would likely have died defending him had Meian not intervened.[Notes 1] His devotion to his wider family was also shown when he fought against his father's impostor to save Akira, Kay and his mother.
His actions later led the alternate Kenji to speculate that Hotaru's villainous actions came from love for his family, which was later shown to be correct through musings Hotaru made himself. Despite this he willingly attacked Akira, though Hotaru himself felt justified because he gave him several warnings to leave alone.
Hotaru's skill as a manipulator allowed him to convincingly fight for the Gotei 13 against Kazuya's assassins without revealing to anyone that he had a role in planning the attack. He even convincingly attended the impromptu gathering of the 9th Division to toast the memory of Captain Kuchiki, despite his own role in the latter's death. Hotaru managed to remain as a mole implanted within the 9th Division for years, actively spied on sensitive meetings, and even viewing the various Lieutenant reports handed in to the offices of the 9th Division. His use of disguises over the years allowed him to discreetly gather information whilst his clones provided him with a concrete alibi that almost completely ensured his appearance of innocence, and his usage of clones and illusion became all-the-more detailed and thorough when Van began to gain evidence. Perhaps his greatest feat of manipulation and deception was his successful projection of his twin. After an encounter which saw the twins part having came to blows, Hotaru managed to give the impression that his brother was still at his side for years.
His manipulation wasn't perfect however. His father's counterpart, Van's counterpart, and Captain Hein Ueda all suspected Hotaru for one reason or another.[Notes 2] Even Hisagi began suspecting that something wasn't quite right based on comments made by Van and by the Evening Primrose -- who where secretly backed by Hotaru -- releasing him, despite the fact he would have made a valuable hostage.
Hotaru and Akira where born mere minutes apart to Kenji and Ino during a lull in the First Spiritual War, with Hotaru as the elder twin. He would eventually become the brother to a sister who was named after Kei Yume. Kenji and Ino spotted early that Hotaru was generally quite cruel, and Hotaru himself was consciously aware of his parent's disappointment in him. Hotaru generally identified more with his paternal uncle Meian, leading to Akira and he spending a great deal of time in the company of the man whom Hotaru referred to as "the legendary Meian Shiba".
Hotaru and Akira arrived in 2003 in the aftermath of the Quincy Blood War. As far as the authorities in the world where Hotaru and his brother ended up are concerned, Akira and he are distantly related to the former noble Shiba clan, and Hotaru thus took on the name Yoshiro Shiba. Due to a combination of wartime casualties and Hotaru's own actions, there was a distinct lack of witnesses or reliable documentation capable of authenticating the claim. As such there is an air of mystery surrounding the twins which led to at least one member of the Kidō Corps investigating the pair sometime prior to the Assault on the 9th Division, who was subsequently silenced by Hotaru before her findings could come to light. Swiftly following the Tsunayashiro Incident, Hotaru solidified his position and recruited several Shinigami who had become disillusioned with the Soul Society, including Sakae Kisaragi.
- Main articles -- Bleach (Kenji Hiroshi).
Bleach: War of the Worlds
- Main article -- Bleach: War of the Worlds.
- Main article -- Bleach: Cataclysm.
- Main article -- Renascence Beginning
9th Division Assault arc
- First Steps Into the Unknown
- Sakae's Descent
- Exposition Into the Unknown
- Clash of Twins? The Lord of Chaos Rules
- Assault on the 9th Division
- Towards the Future: Kenji's Resolve [Notes 3]
- Towards the Future: Finalisation (as the mysterious Visored)
Blank period arc
Evening Primrose arc
- Blank period: The Noble Art (mentioned)
- Blank period: The Jaws Close (mentioned)
- Blank period: The Evening Primrose (mentioned)
The New Substitute arc
- Main article -- Bleach Renascence.
Soul Society chapter
- Ōin (intended): Hotaru grew up on stories of the legendary Kyūtai of his world, specifically the tales detailing his father's and Van's many missions to safeguard them prior to the First Spiritual War. As such Hotaru was intimately aware of the Kyūtai's various powers, and thus set his sight on the Ōin. As a wielder of Bankai he met the sole requisite required to wield the Ōin. His ultimate mission was to acquire the Ōin and use its powers to return Akira and himself home.
Powers and Abilities
Great Spiritual Energy: Hotaru possesses entry-level Captain-class reiatsu and is capable of performing Bankai. Of the three children who where seemingly attacked by Kenji, Hotaru was the sole one capable of defending himself, indicating power beyond that of his twin. Power aside Hotaru is masterful at controlling his output of reiatsu, to the point of near-erasure. He was capable of hiding from all but one of the assembled Captains during a meeting he eavesdropped upon. He was likewise fit to control his exerted levels to convincingly fight at Seated officer level, with only Kenji and Van suspecting him of hiding his true power.
- Self-induced Restraints: Despite his prowess Hotaru constantly holds himself back as a means of preserving his cover. The alternate Kenji and Van where hesitant to put into words just how powerful they thought he was when questioned by Mikado, who incorrectly assumed rank equalled power. Even restrained in this manner Hisagi believed he was capable of patrolling the likes of Zaraki district alone.
- Sensory Perception: Hotaru is trained to a high level in the Wan'nesu form. As such he possesses almost flawless sensory perception when the latter is combined with his existing senses, to the point he could effortlessly track Sakae when she had extinguished her reiatsu through Kidō.
Stealth: Hotaru is a notably skilled stealth operative. He is roughly on the level of an Onmitsukidō operative and very nearly managed to evade a dogged Van. Following this particular encounter with Van however Hotaru ultimately upped his game and remained elusive for years, despite a joint investigation from both Van and Kenji. He was likewise capable of sneaking up on Sakae undetected.
Enhanced Durability: Even when fighting at a restrained level Hotaru was fit to tank the Shikai of Michael Davis, the explosion of which had been amplified by Jenna. He even flippantly remarked that sometimes he hated the whole "holding back malarkey".
Hohō: Hotaru was capable of employing shunpo to float. He swiftly placed himself in-front of Akira as a human shield during the violent throes of The Collapse. He was capable of swiftly removing himself from Jenna's sensory perception before she could even turn to face where he had been standing.
Enhanced Speed: Even as a child Kenji noted that Hotaru and Akira zipped around the house like the wind.
Zanjutsu Expertise: Hotaru's true skill lies in swordsmanship for he was one of the youngest to ever attain the Bankai state. Even whilst holding back he was fit to clash with the alternate Van, and Van and Kenji correctly assumed that he was much stronger than he let on. He also trained somewhat under Sajin Komamura when he took Captaincy of the 9th Division, which served to heighten his abilities even further. As the son of Kenji, and having been trained by Meian, it is no surprise that Hotaru is a masterful swordsman. He has also studied the Wan'nesu form and is advanced enough in his teaching to be capable of communicating with the spirits found in nature.
Kidō: Hotaru studied the style of personal Kidō spells designed by his father and Van. He likewise studied under Captain Kazuya Kuchiki of the 9th Division. Due to hailing from an alternate world Hotaru has access to two distinct schools of Kidō -- the school of Kidō taught in his native world, and the school taught to the alternate world.[Notes 5] As such he has more arcane lore at his beck and call than most and he has blended spells from both to create what he refers to as his "false Shikai". Although skilled in the field of destruction, Hotaru's real skill lay in stealth. In the years following the Kidō Corps Revolt Hotaru's skills in using Kidō for matters involving stealth and espionage had improved considerably. He was capable of sitting in on Captain meetings, with only one Captain present noting his presence.
Tsukigami (月神, Moon God). Hotaru tends to keep his Zanpakutō in a state of release. When required however he will seal the blade and it has been shown to take the form of a wakizashi with a figure-eight guard and white-as-snow hilt.
- Shikai: Tsukigami is released with the command "Rise" (騰貴, touki). When released his katana shrinks into a small combat knife similar in size and shape to Kensei Muguruma's Tachizake, and possesses a long chain attached to the base which is commonly coiled around Hotaru's arm and loosed for battle. Hotaru has the tendency to keep his Shikai active constantly; he has maintained its released form so long many have not seen his Zanpakutō's sealed state.
- Shikai Special Ability: Hotaru's Zanpakutō deals in illusion, which allows Hotaru to alter someone's perception of events, to a level allowing him to create a clone of himself and alter its appearance into that of Akira; seemingly over years, all with little to no suspicion. These illusions are incredibly detailed and realistic, to the point Hotaru can have illusory phantoms pretend to be him. The length of chain allows for long-range attacks, entanglement of a foes weaponry or limbs, physical attacks, and even self-defence.
- Clones: Hotaru is capable of creating illusory clones of himself. These clones can serve basic reconnaissance duties or swarm tactics, and can be hidden away through use of Kidō. Combat applications aside, Hotaru often uses his clones to give himself an alibi. He did so on the night where Van fought the real Hotaru in the World of the Living; this shows he can employ various clones at once, for the Akira sat at the table opposite him was another disguised clone of Hotaru's making. A particularly keen eye can notice the truth however as Van demonstrated when he correctly deduced that Hotaru was using some form of illusion to literary allow him to be in two places at once.
- Disguises: Hotaru has been shown capable of altering his physical appearance, including height, weight, clothing, and physical appearance through Tsukigami's power. One disguise he took using this method was that of the Van Satonaka who hailed from the same world as Hotaru himself. These disguises require massive concentration on Hotaru's part to maintain however. It is for this reason that Hotaru opts instead to summon his Hollow mask when conducting short meetings with his Coven allies.
- Persistent Illusion: Hotaru, through great concentration, has been shown capable of creating persistent illusions. His most commonly seen demonstration has been when he combines his ability to create clones and alter their appearance, as he most notably did to create a persistent clone of his own twin.
- Bankai: Zenmoura Tsukigami (全網羅 月神, All-encompassing Moon God). Not yet revealed. Hotaru grew up on stories of the legendary Kyūtai and proved very knowledgeable on their powers and restrictions, and thus made it his mission to secure the Ōin for himself in order to return Akira and himself home. Being a wielder of Bankai is the sole requisite required to use the Ōin, and Hotaru has demonstrated the ability to release his Shikai without a verbal command, which is a trait possible only for those who achieved Bankai. His Bankai has never been performed in-front of the Gotei 13 of the alternate world and is thus unknown to them, which includes the files previously kept by Mayuri Kurotsuchi.
Hotaru and Akira underwent voluntary Hollowfication; who carried out the procedure is unknown. Whilst his comerades in his own world knew of this development, the Gotei 13 of the alternate world are currently unaware of his Hollowfied state, though both alternate Kenji and alternate Van are convinced that the mysterious Visored fought by Van is Hotaru.
- Hollow mask: Hotaru's Hollow mask is a simple white covering with a lightning bolt running through the right eye, with a scratched appearance and a slight red-lined opening around his mouth. His eyes are obscured by a thin sheen. Hotaru dons the mask when meeting with members of The Coven as a means of safe-guarding his identity should he be seen during these illicit meetings. The mask he dons is physically identical to that donned by Akira, though Hotaru's appears scratched.
- Power Augmentation: The original intent behind Hollowfication was to bring about an enhanced being whose power alone was greater than either a Shinigami or Hollow would be capable of reaching on their own. With his mask donned Hotaru experiences heightened ceilings of power, whilst expressing a unique duel-type spiritual signature not unlike that of an Arrancar.
- Enhanced Spiritual Energy: Hotaru is significantly more powerful with his mask donned. The general feel of his reiatsu -- even when restrained during his undercover activities -- differs from his standard state, to the point that Kenji and Van could not initially prove that the Visored fought by Van was Hotaru. His reiatsu has been described as weighty.
- Enhanced Duration: Hotaru seems to possess heightened reserves of stamina in regards to how long he can keep his mask donned. He frequently meets members of The Coven with it donned, and has fought difficult and intense battles without removing his Mask once. This is an impressive feat considering the Visored familiar with Hotaru's father claimed that their time-limit was around three-minutes.
Behind the scenes
References & notes
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Kenji gone Mad?
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Sakae's Descent
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 First Steps Into the Unknown
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Betrayal!?
- ↑ Uniform customisation
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Blank period: The Jaws Close
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Fledgling Soul: Answers? Or Questions?
- ↑ Invading the Dark Depths
- ↑ 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 The Fledgling Soul: Coven's Orders
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Towards the Future: Finalisation
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Back From the Dead: Kensei Muguruma!?
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Exposition Into the Unknown
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Clash of Twins? The Lord of Chaos Rules
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Assault on the 9th Division (event)
- ↑ Towards the Future: Kenji's Resolve
- ↑ Coven membership
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 A New Chapter
- ↑ Bleach anime; Episode 138, omake
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 19.2 Blank period: Rising Suspicions
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 Blank period: The Noble Art
- ↑ Blank period: The Evening Primrose
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 Safeguarding the Kyūtai
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Bleach movie; The DiamondDust Rebellion
- ↑ The Fledgling Soul: The Morning After
- ↑ Ninth Division (Fanon Canon)#Recruitment
- ↑ Nigendō intro
- ↑ Ninth Division (Fanon Canon)#Recruitment
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 140, page 20
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 516, pages 2-17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 175, pages 9-11
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 282, pages 4-5
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 367, page 13
- ↑ Before the beginning of the FC story, Hotaru was indeed dead in-story. Cataclysm began as a reference book detailing the numerous dead as a result of The Collapse that kicked off Bleach: Cataclysm.
- ↑ All chapters depicted in the Blank period arc of Bleach: The Coven War had Kenji and Van discuss their suspicions of Hotaru. Hein also sensed his presence during the Captain's meeting depicted in The Coven War, but ultimately decided not to reveal his presence at that time.
- ↑ The entire 9th Division is noted to have attended Kei's bar to pay their final respects to Captain Kuchiki, who fell in battle against The Coven.
- ↑ "Agreed. We can gloss over things like I suggested and keep the general idea without going into specifics, which'll help us with branching stories. I'm game for bringing forward The Coven story, for example, and running it in conjunction to the main story" -- Excerpt from Kenji's message on the Episode 4: A New FC thread. The Coven War (event) page glosses over A New Chapter, which was originally part of the FC, but is now semi-canon only.
- ↑ During his battle with Michael Davis, Hotaru was shown using Hadō #.8 Būdoha -- a spell which does not exist in the numbered category of spells taught in his native world.