Hotarubi (japanese: 蛍火, hiragana: ほたるび, rōmaji: Hotarubi) a character featured in the Japanese anime Basilisk Kouga Ninpou Chou (known in English as the Kouga Ninja Scrolls). Hotarubi was chosen by her leader Ogen to be one of ten elite ninja who would
represent their clan of Iga Tsubagakure against the chosen ten of the rival Koga Manjidani clan.
A petite and slender young woman with straight dark hair that drapes to just below her shoulders; Hotarubi is reminiscent
of the traditional Japanese beauty whereas Oboro is more of the large-eyed innocent heroine common in anime, Okoi the sassy tomboy, and Akeginu and Kagerou (and even Ogen during her youth) representing the concept of the sensual femme-fatale. Although she shares her clan's hatred for the Kouga, Hotarubi's prime concern is for her lover Yashamaru, another member of the Iga ten. Her devotion to him is so great that even the suggestion that he's come to harm is enough
to send her into a feral rage.
Like most of the Iga, Hotarubi considers Oboro to be completely useless despite her position as the clan's next leader,
and defers to Yakushiji Tenzen's orders. In the anime, this may be tied to slight jealousy, since Yashamaru once teased her for not being sweet and feminine
like Oboro and Hotarubi almost threw a childish tantrum at him.
In combat, Hotarubi summons swarms of glowing pink butterflies that overwhelm and distract her opponents, allowing her
to either strike a lethal blow through their dropped defenses with her tantō or escape to safety. She also maintains a spiritual link with her pet viper who acts as her bodyguard and scout. In the anime,
Hotarubi summons and controls her butterflies through a barely audible chant that varies depending on the situation.
In the Japanese original anime, Hotarubi is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro.
Hotarubi VS Shogen (episode 3): Sent by Yakushiji Tenzen alongside Nenki, Koshirou, and Rousai to intercept Kazamachi Shogen and take the Kouga's copy of the battle scroll; Hotarubi barely escaped being caught in Shogen's glue net with the others.
Before he had a chance to finish off her comrades, Hotarubi summoned her butterfly swarm and distracted Shogen long enough
for her to throw one of Koushiro's kama scythes to Nenki who caught it in his hair and buried the blade into Shogen's skull. Shogen tossed the scroll to Jimushi Jubei who retreated with Koshiro, Nenki, and Rousai in hot pursuit; leaving Hotarubi alone with the now paralyzed Shogen. Strolling
over, Hotarubi pressed a knife to Shogen's throat and demanded to know whether or not Yashamaru was safe. Shogen's response
was to spit his glue onto her cheek, enraging Hotarubi into brutally stabbing him to death as she screamed hysterically for
him to answer her.
Hotarubi VS Koga Shinobi (episode 5): Under the command of Tenzen, Hotarubi was part of the five man
Iga assault that launched a surprise attack on Manjidani. As the Koga were unaware of the Hattori truce's cancellation, the
Iga expected to eliminate them all at once but were detected before their arrival thanks to Muroga Hyouma's sense of hearing. In the ensuring battle, Hotarubi's speed and grace enabled her to quickly kill several enemy ninja while
her snake fatally bit any who managed to counter her attack. When the Koga Ten in Manjidani joined the fight, Hotarubi used
her butterfly technique to grant her and her comrades the cover needed to escape.
Hotarubi VS Saemon (episode 11-12): Along with Nenki, Hotarubi was sent by Tenzen to spy on the Koga
after Gennosuke returned the battle scroll along with an invitation for the Iga to join him on an expedition to Sunpu. Upon
locating them at a roadside inn, Hotarubi was able to gain a small measure of retribution against the Koga for Yashamaru's
death by sending her viper to deliver a capsule containing the same Seven Days of Darkness potion Oboro had used on herself
onto Gennosuke's eyes, though the act cost the animal its life. When Nenki pointed out that Kasumi Gyoubu was missing from
the others, Hotarubi summoned her butterfly swarm to lead Kisaragi Saemon and Kagerou away so her comrade could finish off Muroga Hyouma and Gennosuke. Escaping across the village rooftops, Hotarubi was wounded when Saemon hurled a kunai into her left thigh but sent her butterflies
on by themselves to continue leading her enemies away.
Despite using a strip of cloth torn from her ninja uniform as a makeshift bandage, the pain and blood loss from Hotarubi's
wound severely weakened her as she attempted to make her way back to the other Iga, revenge for Yashamaru the only thing keeping
her going until she came across a canyon with a broken bridge. As Hotarubi pondered how to cross, Nenki appeared out of the
dark and told her that he had successfully killed all the Koga save for Saemon. But when he revealed that Saemon was the one
who killed Yashamaru, Hotarubi furiously admonished him for his failure, but ultimately decided that it was preferable as
fate had granted her the chance to seek revenge for her lover's death.
As Hotarubi intently seethed how she would hunt Saemon down, she noticed that bandage wrapped around Nenki's finger and
remembered how she had sucked the poison from Saemon when her snake bit him during his infiltration of Tsubagakure disguised
as Yashamaru. Hotarubi looked up and her face contorted into shock and horror as Nenki slowly began to turn into Saemon before
he lunged for her. Hotarubi leapt back to avoid his reach and spin kicked him away as she attempted to summon another butterfly
swarm but failed as her hands suddenly came flying off her forearms. Saemon had seized her tantō during their scuffle
and had amputated them with her own weapon before plunging the blade into her chest. Hotarubi leaned against a rock and silently
cursed Saemon for all he had done to her and Yashamaru when the image of her dead lover suddenly appeared before her.
Hotarubi reached for Yashamaru's ghost, pitifully calling his name in the hopes he would take her with him into the afterlife.
As Saemon realized she was hallucinating himself as Yashamaru, he silently nodded and a relieved Hotarubi fell over the cliff
and into the canyon below. Upon the moment of her death, thousands of glowing pink butterflies rose out of the canyon before
Saemon's eyes to illuminate the night sky until only two were left; a male and female that danced and fluttered around each
other as they ascended into the clouds
In the manga, Hotarubi's personality and background are relatively the same (the anime depicts her as being somewhat more
childish outside of the battlefield, though), but her powers are changed. Her butterfly swarms don't glow and appear to be
comprised of several different species. She's also capable of summoning other types of insects as proved by the trail she
left following her and Nenki's sneak attack at the inn where the remaining Koga ten were staying.
Played by Erika Sawajiri, Hotarubi appeared in the live action movie Shinobi: Heart Under Blade with some differences, such as not being romantically involved with Yashamaru and lacking her viper. As she played a role
similar to the one Akeginu had in the original manga and anime, Hotarubi was overly protective of her leader, Oboro, and stated that Oboro was the most
precious thing to her, even going so far as sacrificing her own life by acting as a human shield when the Kouga Koshirou ambushed them.
Within the novel, Hotarubi's abilities far outshine those in the manga and anime as she is able to commune with any insects
and reptiles surrounding her. Additionally, her snake rests on top of her head rather than coiling around her throat. Also,
when Saemon infilitrates Tsubagakure, their small meeting never happens so the snake bite never occurred. Upon seeing Okoi
near death in the salt shed, Saemon yawns and sits down for a bit, claiming that he was tired from his run from Sunpu while
he comforts his sister in her final moments. When he is again disguised, this time as Nenki, Hotarubi is able to see through
his disguise because, unlike Nenki, Saemon's arms weren't hairy. Her death is the same however