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|Affiliation||Gotei 13, Soul Society|
|Occupation|| Captain (2nd Division)|
20th Head of the Fujibayashi Family
|Previous Occupation|| Corps Commander (Patrol Corps)|
Student (Karakura High School)
|Previous Partner||Yoruichi Shihōin?|
|Base of Operations||2nd Division HQ, Seireitei, Soul Society|
|Relatives||(See Fujibayashi Family)|
|Bankai||Daitsuki Jo'ō Takame|
- "Determined to remain independent."
Hotaru Fujibayashi (藤林 蛍; Fujibayashi Hotaru) was the former corps commander of the Onmitsukidō's Patrol Corps and current captain of the Gotei 13, as well as the head of the Fujibayashi Family. She was arrested, charged and convicted with treason by the Central 46 for assisting in illegal experiments falsely accused to be conducted by Urahara, but was later rescued by Yoruichi Shihōin. Spending much of her time hidden in the human world, Hotaru opted not to help Soul Society in its later missions, including when Sōsuke Aizen commenced assault on Karakura Town to obtain the King's Key. She was one of the few shinigami who suspected Aizen of treasonous activity before his defection, though a victim of Aizen's schemes.
Hotaru eventually settled in Karakura Town to hide from pursuers from the Onmitsukidō because of the town's high spiritual concentration. She obtained a gigai with Urahara's help and attended Karakura High School in order to be acquainted with the living. Her father and uncle helped her be released from her sentencing from the Central 46. Afterwards, Hotaru remained in Soul Society to rebuild her former life.
Her later exploits gave Hotaru a new reputation, and received numerous recommendations by other captains to become the 2nd Division Captain. She was cited to have experience, dedication, loyalty, and skill in the recommendations. In becoming the 2nd Division Captain, Hotaru also inherented the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Onmitsukidō.
She was among the Gotei 13 captains that fought against Kamui and his subordinates when he betrayed Soul Society, defeating Setsuna Inoue in a duel in the human world. However, her power was insufficient to defeat Kamui himself. One year later, Hotaru played a major role in the investigation of Magatsuhi's disappearance.
As the young heir of the Fujibayashi Family, Hotaru was expected to be raised as an ideal head of family for the noble house. This was met, however, with opposition from Hotaru herself. She cared little for noble status and wanted to live the life of an ordinary female shinigami. Out of respect for her family, however, Hotaru was taught the most common applications of noble behavior.
In her academy years, Hotaru was given respectable regard by her classmates due to her noble status. However, she put off other shinigamis' attempts to use honorary suffixes with her name, and insisted to be treated like an "ordinary" shinigami. Even though she had a small coterie of "friends", Hotaru saw them as those who stuck to her because of her background rather than as a true friendship. Inside, she still felt lonely and without cushion to fall on when her family attempted to push its influence on her.
When Hotaru graduated from the academy, she immediately went to apply for the Onmitsukidō, out of self-interest. Hotaru barely passed the examination process, creating more friction between herself and her family who claimed that her scores proved that she was not meant for the harsher forms of work as a shinigami. Despite this, Hotaru plowed through her new job as a lesser member of the Patrol Corps.
The Patrol Corps
Although she enjoyed her work, Hotaru was always nervous when going on a new mission, out of fear that she would fail and disenfranchise her family even more. But, her team has made it through all of its assignments successfully. Her initial fright for work faded with every successful mission and she eventually transformed that accomplishment into an advantage. Hotaru eventually began taking on a great leadership role within her team, eventually garnering some attention from the Commander-in-Chief of the time, Yoruichi Shihōin.
A time arose when Hotaru's team was in mortal danger while attempting to apprehend a "criminal" to send to the Nest of Maggots. The unit commander was badly wounded and on the brink of death after a devastating kidō spell. Hotaru was quick to step into the role of leadership, coordinating the other team members to neutralize the shinigami resister. She was applauded for her work and was promoted to unit commander. From there, Hotaru's leadership skills blossomed, leaving little space between her time as a unit commander and succeeding as the Corps Commander of the Patrol Corps.
As the head of the Patrol Corps, Hotaru spent most of her time within Seireitei's walls: dealing out assignments to her subordinates. It was at this time that Hotaru met and became acquainted with Kisuke Urahara, the Corps Commander of the Detention Unit and future Captain of the Twelfth Division. It was this acquaintance that led to the demise of Hotaru's career; Aizen was watching everything.
Hotaru also aided the 10th Division Captain of the time, Takashi Ishigawa, 130 years before the main Bleach storyline. During the Indoyuigon Crisis, she led the Patrol Corps in the Kongoukai, providing cover for Ishigawa's men when they fell under attack by demonic monsters. Her forces were devastated, though unable to retreat to Soul Society to recuperate. Instead, they joined forces with the 10th Division and fought the Indoyuigon cultists. Hotaru found herself beside Takashi, and helped him break into the Tower of Divination. However, when Irkura and Takashi unleashed their reiatsu, Hotaru was forced to the sidelines from having a much smaller reserve of reiatsu than them. When Takashi was kicked off the top of the tower, Hotaru was there to attempt to capture him, though the other disappeared before she could take him down. In any case, the battle was won.
After Takashi gave his report to the Central 46 Chambers, Hotaru had to give her own report of the enormous casualties as a result of the mission. Takashi's judgment, being relieved of his captaincy, frightened her, though it was futile to attempt to appeal his loss. The legislative body saw that the Patrol Corps' losses were higher than what was expected, though she performed as to expectations. Inside, Hotaru was angered by the revelation that she was expected to have significant casualties, though accepted it without voicing discontent.
Arrest and escape
- "Patrol Corps Commander Hotaru Fujibayashi: for assisting in the taboo experiments conducted by Kisuke Urahara, you will be imprisoned in Underground Prison 2!"
- —Sentence given by the Central 46
Roughly 100 years before the events of the main storyline of Bleach, Hotaru was approached by members of the Executive Militia, declaring her arrest for aiding terrorist action against Soul Society in the form of helping convicted then-Captains Urahara and Tsukabishi escape with the hollowfied shinigami. She did not resist arrest, voicing her protest of innocence before the Central 46. Her words were left unheard, and she was sentenced to imprisonment in an underground prison.
It was later revealed that Hotaru was completely innocent of the alleged involvement in the hollowfication experiments: documents were planted in Hotaru's office, as well as in Urahara's laboratory, with information suggesting the false accusation to be true, as well as Hotaru's presence in Soul Society throughout the incident.
As she was being transported to a holding cell to serve her prison sentence, Yoruichi came to her rescue, to clean up her act before going into hiding. Though Hotaru expressed her gratitude for the release, she and the ex-commander in chief split up to avoid getting caught; they only met again right before entering the human world by entering the same senkaimon, in the northern Rukongai districts, heading for Japan. Neither saw the other for many years.
The human world
Hotaru originally sought refuge in Tokyo, but ended up leaving for a more spiritually vibrant community after numerous attempts by the Onmitsukidō to capture her in Japan's capital. After years of experimentation with different locations, Hotaru settled down in Karakura Town, purchasing a gigai from Urahara's shop to serve as a guise for communicating with the humans of the town. At this time, Hotaru began investigating the incident that forced her into exile.
In order to integrate herself into society, Hotaru became a student at Karakura High School in order to help get herself a job later on. Despite the fact that she could see shinigami activity about her, Hotaru said and thought little of it, to remain in obscurity. Even when Aizen commenced the attack on Karakura Town in order to create the King's Key, Hotaru did nothing: she was positive that the shinigami would prevent it from happening at all costs. If Baraggan's fracción was successful in breaking the four pillars that kept the fake Karakura Town in place, Hotaru may have stepped forth from the shadows to fight Aizen's forces.
Masaru Fujibayashi, Hotaru's uncle, traveled to Karakura Town to convince Hotaru to return to Soul Society. He reasoned that he and Kohaku would help her be pardoned for her sentence. Although reluctant, Hotaru agreed to return to Soul Society to appeal the century-old sentence.
With the help of her father and uncle, Hotaru returned to Central 46 in order to appeal her sentence. At first, the assembly was unwilling to release Hotaru, though it has been understood that Hotaru stayed out of Soul Society's way since her exile. Although Central 46 did not want Hotaru to be let off the hook, it has been stated that it was willing to lessen the severity of Hotaru's sentence. After much time and effort, including the naming of involved peoples who were already forgiven (in a fashion) at that time, Hotaru was released from her century-old sentence.
It was sometime after her return to Soul Society did Hotaru encounter and performed a soul burial on Michiko Ito, who later became a well known member of the Kido Corps.
Seireitou and Kamui Saga
Main article: Seireitou and Kamui Saga Hotaru makes her debut in the plot when Magatsuhi Sakyōnosuke Yōjirō was revealed as the new Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13. Her face was expressionless throughout the ceremony, though there was a hint of surprise at the announcement of Yōjirō's promotion, murmuring afterward to her lieutenant that she did not expect someone of Yōjirō's personality made him responsible enough to become the Captain-Commander, despite his obvious strength.
She makes a later appearance accompanying the Gotei 13 captains in their venture to the human world to confront Kamui and his subordinates. Hotaru cornered Setsuna Inoue and engaged her in battle. She did not bother to hear what Setsuna had to say about her zanpakutō and proceeded to release shikai to fight. Setsuna's shikai initially caught Hotaru off-guard, cutting into Hotaru's shoulder, and the shinigami captain was forced to resort to Shōgai-in in order to prevent Setsuna from overwhelming her. The attack by Setsuna's Hakuhada was driven off, though the flexibility of the zanpakutō's blade narrowly missed Hotaru in the scuffle, leaving a scratch on her cheek. As the two fought, Hotaru used the opportunity to analyze her opponent, to find the weak point in Setsuna's ability. However, Setsuna caught her off-guard with a kick to the stomach, sending her flying. Hotaru used the opportunity to scatter her seals and activated Taijū Kibakuin, forcing Setsuna to protect herself from the explosion. Without wasting extra movement, Hotaru casted Hundred Steps Fence to immobilize Setsuna, using a flash step to catch up and deliver a quick punch to Setsuna's stomach. Setsuna was knocked to the ground beneath them, but was surprised when Hotaru immediately caught up to her before she could catch her breath. Hotaru revealed that she placed sensory seals on Setsuna when she punched her. Setsuna attempted to fend off Hotaru with Adamantine Blast, though Hotaru was quick to dodge it and casted Thunder Roar Cannon, finishing off her opponent.
When Seireitou Kawahiru confronted Kamui, Hotaru was among the captains that stood by his side and engaged Kamui in battle. Knowing that she would not stand a chance if she did not go all out, Hotaru immediately released bankai and attempted to use her great speed to ambush Kamui. However, she was caught by surprise when Kamui cleanly dodged her attack, and she was quickly defeated with a deep wound to her mid-section. The resulting wound hospitalized her for two weeks, forcing her lieutenant, Ninkatsu Kurohara, to assume temporary responsibility over 2nd Division functions.
After the disappearance of Magatsuhi Sakyōnosuke Yōjirō, Hotaru's division was assigned to investigate what happened to him. For two years, she had little luck in uncovering anything, until a task force sent to investigate a forested region where the former Captain-Commander was believed to have been hiding in resulted in the deaths of two of her men. Baffled by the deaths, Hotaru ordered for the corpses to be field examined and quickly informed the Captain-Commander of the time, Shōyō Shakyamuni, of the killings.
She later appeared at a mandatory captain meeting, informing the other captains of her analysis of the situation. When Ryan Getsueikirite broke into Seireitei's east gate, Hotaru quickly arrived at the scene. Although she allowed Suzaku Kawahiru to fight Ryan, she stepped in, casting Six Rods of Light to capture Ryan. Although he was caught and Hotaru sealed off pressure points on his body using her knowledge of acupuncture, Ryan broke free from the spell and reversed the effects of her work. Hotaru attempted to knock him out by overloading his nerve system with a strike to Ryan's upper arm, though Ryan was able to cast Splitting Void to block her attempt and flee.
Takeshi then revealed that information about Magatsuhi's whereabouts may be found at one of his getaways on the outskirts of Soul Society, creating a path with kidō for Hotaru and the Onmitsukidō to follow. There, Hotaru encountered Kokura Hikarinami.
Personality and traits
A rebellious nature marked Hotaru's early life, which was maintained throughout her life. It unwittingly helped Aizen frame Hotaru for participation in the hollowfication experiments, suspecting Urahara's connections in the Onmitsukidō would come into play when arrested. Aizen's goal in this was to prevent Urahara's more powerful friends and acquaintances from investigating the matter further by making Soul Society distrust them.
Although she matured a lot since then, Hotaru's persistance and stubbornness continued to be among her defining behavioral traits. Some say that Hotaru's intellect stemmed from her commitment to whatever task she was given, to think out of the box and think of anything to prove that her way is correct. She occasionally ended up placing herself at odds with the other captains because of this.
Hotaru has uncanny dedication when committed to a task, displayed when she defiantly remained in the Onmitsukidō, against her family's bidding, and by the amount of information she has uncovered about the hollowfication incident while in exile in the human world.
Powers and abilities
Hotaru is most skilled in hakuda and shunpo, often combining them to devastating effect. As a veteran of the Indoyuigon Crisis, Hotaru has amassed considerable experience in combat and strategy, making her a dangerous opponent to fight.
Expert Swordsmanship Specialist: Though she does not focus much in zanjutsu, Hotaru is capable of using her zanpakutō in battle quite well. Since her zanpakutō resembles a tantō in its sealed form, Hotaru sees the skill as unsuitable for her style of combat.
Master Spiritual Anatomy Specialist: She has shown high proficiency in spiritual anatomy, especially in the art of seishin-koshijutsu, capable of temporarily paralyzing, or even kill, an opponent with a single, well-placed blow. As a captain, Hotaru's ability to pinpoint target points in another's anatomy grew much more accurate, and has even come to include some healing techniques.
Keen Intellect: Hotaru has shown high competence in her ability to overcome superior opponents, as well as deduce facts with little information. A prime example was when she suspected Sōsuke Aizen as a possible traitor of Soul Society before Ichigo's excursion to Soul Society to rescue Rukia, revealed the fact.
Flash Step Master: As member of the Onmitsukidō, learning shunpo was among the most important skills she had to learn. Her skill in the technique vastly improved since her exile and return, making her one of the, in not the, fastest of the Gotei 13. She is capable of producing clones of herself, as well as produce a tangible afterimage of herself through the use of Utsusemi (空蝉; lit. Cicada).
Master Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Since hakuda is her specialty, Hotaru is assumed to have high proficiency in this field. Since her zanpakutō prevented her from utilizing zanjutsu effectively, Hotaru often used hakuda against armed opponents.
Master Assassin: Hotaru believes that the best way to win a fight is to keep it from beginning in the first place, and has trained herself to be able to sneak up on her victims and subdue them quickly.
Kidō Expert: Hotaru use of kidō is minimal, though her training in the Onmitsukidō and her zanpakutō abilities make it a safe to assume that she is proficient in the study. Hotaru is also capable of using Shunkō (瞬閧; lit. Flash Cry), though stated that she still has a lot of training to do to use it effectively.
Enhanced Endurance: Combining her will to accomplish what she sets her mind towards, Hotaru has shown capability in ignoring weaknesses in her own body and standing up to daunting challenges with no doubts.
- Shikai: The incantation for release is "Shatter all limits" (限界を破る, 鷹目; Genkai wo yaburu, Takame; lit. "break the limit"). Takame changes from its tantō form into small metal seals that could be used as a form of body armor or as a medium for special kidō-like attacks. Despite the disappearance of anything that would resemble a blade, Hotaru makes up for the disability with her skill in hand-to-hand combat.
- Innokyohi (印の拒否; lit. Rejection of seals): Surrounding herself in Takame's seals, Hotaru can activate this seal by performing several hand seals. Upon activation, Hotaru would be temporarily protected from kidō attacks with energy that clings to her body and garments, storing the energy for a counterattack at twice the damage potential. The energy could be stored for half a minute before its damage potential fades. However, Innokyohi is not impervious: the shield-like barrier can be broken with a powerful enough attack. Innokyohi's barrier does not lessen the blow if it is broken, leaving it unreliable against powerful foes (though it does take a moment to break, alerting Hotaru to the attack). Physical attacks merely bounce off of Innokyohi's barrier with equal force, unless its power can overwhelm it. This ability allows Hotaru to quickly overwhelm an opponent when on the offensive, since Innokyohi does not distinguish the difference between friendly or enemy attacks.
- Shōgai-in (障害印; lit Restraining seal): Through the use of seals, Hotaru produces a large shield to protect herself and companions from attacks. It is often seen as a variation of Innokyohi. It can withstand stronger attacks than Innokyohi, though lacks the former's ability to lash back with absorbed energy.
- Kibakuin (起爆印; lit. Exploding seal): Hotaru can prime one or more of her metal seals to explode. These seals are usually thrown at the opponent, capable of adjusting its course enroute to the target. A more devastating variation, Taijū Kibakuin (多重起爆印; lit. Multiple exploding seals), can create an area of exploding seals. This does massive damage to the enemy, though it rapidly wears out the zanpakutō, forcing the shikai to end and temporarily weakening the blade of Takame.
- Kanchi-in (感知印; lit. Perceptive seal): Hotaru can temporarily infuse her seals with the reiatsu signature of one or more individuals, allowing her to magnify the original signature of the victim to easier-to-determine levels. However, the more individuals whose reiatsu signatures are infused in the seals, the more difficult it could be to select a single signature to focus on.
- Bankai: Daitsuki Jo'ō Takame (大突き女王鷹目; lit. Great Piercing Hawk Eyes of the Queen). Hotaru's appearance makes a drastic change, causing her to share physical attributes with her zanpakutō's spirit. Instead of seals floating in the air, Hotaru is the "seal" comparison of her shikai, so extra seals becomes completely unnecessary. This allows Hotaru to utilize all of her techniques without exterior mediums, which is much more convenient for her. However, Hotaru commented that her bankai lacked as many abilities as other bankai, but she made up for it with finesse and skill. Hotaru's bankai bears one notable similarity to Kenji Fujibayashi's shikai release: the change in eye coloration.
- Bankai special ability: While in bankai, Hotaru's speed is enhanced to levels surpassing advanced flash step techniques. In this form, Hotaru moves so quickly that the trained eye sees multiple images of her. By itself, the ability does not offer much. However, when combined with Hotaru's previous abilities, it makes her a force to be reckoned with.
- Enhanced Shikai powers: In bankai form, Hotaru can activate and deactivate all of her shikai techniques at will.
The creator, Lavi shared this article with a variety of people for review and criticism. They have responded extremely positively, describing it as "well-written" and "outstanding". Hotaru was chosen as the Character of the Month for June 2009 on the Bleach Fan Fiction Wiki.
Behind the scenes
There has been no indication that Hotaru was also the lieutenant of the Second Division, despite the suggested link between leading the Patrol Corps and the second seated officer position from the current BLEACH continuity, though that may be because the Onmitsukidō was not yet interwoven into the Gotei 13. On top of that, Hotaru and Yoruichi were rarely seen together, judging from Soifon's flashbacks from her time as one of Yoruichi's bodyguards, despite the importance of their respective positions. There is no indication of any sort suggesting that they had poor relations.
Before Aizen's betrayal and capture of the Hōgyoku, Hotaru did not suspect Aizen to be the one behind the hollowfication experiments. By the time Aizen defected from Soul Society and fled to Hueco Mundo, Hotaru suspected Aizen to be involved in some form, from the scraps of information she was able to retrieve over the years. The likelihood of Hotaru communicating with the former captains about the incident is slim.
Hotaru means "firefly" in Japanese, used as a representation of her rebellious nature (the light of the firefly standing out against the darkness of night).
Takame was originally named Takanome (鷹の目; lit Eyes of the Hawk). However, the possessive particle was taken out to place equal emphasis on "eyes" and "hawk" instead of one over the other.