- "I do not want anything to happen that will make this a sad place!"
- — Hotaru —
Hotaru is a male Wavemaster with blonde hair. In the anime his PC wears a pink and white dress with a matching hat. His wave symbol can be seen on both his hat, and at the hem of his dress. He is almost always accompanied by his pet "Mr. Grunty", who usually rides on his head. Due to his pacifist personality he rarely, if ever uses a weapon. In the manga Hotaru has a similar appearance, though his outfit is green instead of pink.
He is obsessed with the protection and harmony of every living creature on Earth, and refuses to attack monsters or let others attack, even when they are in danger. He is very attached to he Grunty, that he found abandoned and sick on a street corner. When forced into combat he defends himself using magical scrolls and tarot cards, immobilizing the enemy long enough for him to make an escape. He is very close to Shugo, who helped save his Grunty when it fell sick, as well as Sanjuro who acts as a sort of mentor to him. Due to his inexperience with Japanese he has the tendency to speak very formally and often misunderstands what others say, especially the fast-talking Mireille.
In the real world Hotaru is a half Irish teenage boy from Boston. During AI Buster his Japanese mother taught him the basics of the language. Hotaru decided to play on the JP sever to improve at Japanese. In the anime Hotaru is female and a male in let's meet offline.
In .hack//Firefly, Hotaru begins to play on the Japanese Servers in order to get in touch with his roots. However, his broken Japanese does little to help him. He meets an Event character who asks him, "What is the one thing there are not two of in The World?" After some panicking, he meets up with Sanjuro, and later on, encounter some PKs, which Sanjuro easily defeats, saving a Wavemaster and Heavy Axeman whom Hotaru had met earlier in town while trying his Japanese. Hotaru tells the Event character the answer to the riddle, "Your name". Sanjuro and Hotaru trade Member Addresses, and Hotaru logs out.
Hotaru makes her first appearance in the anime when she is met by Puchi. Puchi tells her that she is going away for a few days, and needs somebody to take care of her Grunty while she's gone. Hotaru accepts, but quickly finds out that the baby grunty has contracted some sort of disease. Shugo comes across her moping in Mac Anu and decides to help her find a cure. After consulting with the shopkeeper at the Grunty Farm, they realize that the only cure is the rare Phoenix Feather located in Δ Blazing Purgatory Valley. With none of their friends replying to their flash mail, the pair are forced to enter the area by themselves, despite the fact that it's too high level for both of them.
Though they reach the dungeon safely, Shugo and Hotaru run into trouble when they accidently activate some of the Magic Portals there. Luckily Sanjuro appears at the last moment and saves them. With his help Hotaru is able to get the Phoenix Feather without trouble. At the Dun Loireag Grunty Ranch Hotaru uses the feather on the Grunty, restoring him to full health. Though Puchi later reappears and tries to reclaim her Grunty, it refuses to go with her, and stays with Hotaru instead. Hotaru soon becomes a permanent member of Shugo's party, and assists him through the rest of the anime. During the final fight against Morti Hotaru was one of the few members of Shugo's team that wasn't affected by his Drain Arc. because of this she was able to assist Shugo as he fought against the Vagrant AI.
Much later the player behind Hotaru travels to Japan, where he gets lost in Tokyo and is forced to contact Shugo through The World. This sparks a citywide search for the net cafe that Hotaru is playing from. After finally locating Hotaru Shugo is surprised to learn that the cute Wavemaster he knew in The World, is in fact played by a boy. Though apparently the other members of Shugo's party had known this all along.
Hotaru's role in the manga begins after he finds a sick and abandoned Grunty in Mac Anu. Wanting to help it he goes around the town looking for people who might know how to save it, eventually running into Shugo and Rena. They agree to help him find a cure, but are interrupted by an appearance by Komiyan III, a self-proclaimed Grunty expert. He tells her that he should give up on searching for a cure, as the item he needs to save it is a rare Phoenix Feather located in a field that's much too tough for characters of her level. As he talks, Shugo recognizes his voice as that of his real life classmate Komiyama. The two begin to fight which embarrasses Rena causing her to leave.Wanting to redeem himself Shugo decides that he'll help Hotaru find the cure for his Grunty, no matter how dangerous it is. Searching the local shops they find a player (actually Balmung in disguise) who sells them information about the Phoenix Feather. He directs them to the field known as the "Valley of Hades" where a powerful Cerberus monster is known to drop the Feathers. Eager to save the Grunty, Hotaru and Shugo travel to the field. Despite the hazards, which is made even more dangerous by Hotaru's refusal to attack any of the monsters they finally succeed in locating Cerberus. Though the monster is much too strong for them, Shugo manages to hit it with Data Drain, lowering its level to a point where he can kill it. Taking the Phoenix Feather from it, Hotaru is able to save the Baby Grunty, and in exchange he gives Shugo his Member Address.
Hotaru remains a member of Shugo's party for the remainder of the manga, but his role is mostly that of a background character. When Shugo makes his escape from Kamui and the Cobalt Knights, Hotaru buys him some time by pleading with Kamui to let them go. The plea doesn't work, but it gives Zefie time to alter his Grunty's data, temporarily transforming it into a powerful Longhorn Grunty which Shugo and his friends are able to fly away on. He then travels with Shugo to Net Slum and witnesses his fight against Balmung but is unable to continue with him to Aura's domain due to the restrictions placed upon it.
Though he is in contact with Sanjuro by this point, he never mentions him by name, only referring to a powerful warrior who is one of his close friends. In the ending scenes of the manga he is seen talking to him in a bar.
Let's Meet Offline
.hack//LINK: Twilight Knights
- See Hotaru (LINK)
- Hotaru's name means "Firefly" in Japanese.
- Unlike most of the .hack characters, Hotaru's name is spelled in Roman letters instead of Japanese ones in the original Japanese text. This is because all of the Japanese forms were already taken.
- When Hotaru's room is shown at the beginning of Login 18, a keychain version of Gorre can be seen hanging from a shelf over Hotaru's computer screen, as well as a poster of Sora and a plush doll of Hotaru's Grunty that was actually available in real life as official merchandise.
- Hotaru's gender was finally made clear in the Epitaph of Old Testament. According to that source, Hotaru is a male in the canonical manga, and female in the anime.