Hotaru Yamashita (山下 蛍 Yamashita Hotaru) is the SHSL Mortician at the rebuilt Kibougamine Academy. An eccentric girl with a reverence for the dead, Hotaru is extremely dedicated to her practice and will stop at nothing to achieve her dreams.
Hotaru is a black-haired, blue-eyed teen of average height and build. Perhaps the most striking thing about her appearance is her wardrobe – in that, it seems to be the complete opposite of what someone with her lively personality should wear. Hotaru loves to wear dark, gothic clothes, with the only splash of color being her signature neon green skeleton earrings. She has no other notable features.
Hotaru is an extremely happy, friendly, and energetic girl, who manages to make friends everywhere she goes. Hotaru is extremely confident in herself and her eccentricities, and she proudly talks about her views and interests whenever given the opportunity.
Because of her upbringing, Hotaru is extremely comfortable talking about death and the afterlife. She has a deep reverence for those who have passed on, and, as such, always talks about them in a positive light. Though not forceful about it, if anyone were to disrespect the deceased, Hotaru would try to get them to see from her point of view. Although, admittedly, her love of the paranormal can often seem like fanaticism - but deep down, she loves the dead almost as much as the living.
Although generally cheery and happy most of the time, Hotaru can get stern and serious when pushed to her limits. This often comes out when having to deal with Ryuu and his friend's antics, although this can also show itself when someone wrongs her or her friends, as well. Hotaru is quite protective of herself and her friends, and will not tolerate anyone doing any wrongs against them.
Hotaru was born into the Yamashita family, a family well known for its centuries-old funeral home, one year after her cousin Ryuunosuke. Shinzo Yamashita, family patriarch and grandfather of Hotaru, was in control of the funeral home at the time, but was getting older in age. as such, when Hotaru was five, the family began the process of deciding who the next person to run the home would be. Originally, Ryuu’s father, Tadaaki, was next in line, but at the last moment, Shinzo decided that Hotaru’s father, Eiji, would take over the funeral home instead.
Hotaru’s side of the family was completely ecstatic. Eiji especially saw this as a good omen, as, even though Hotaru was young, her promise and prodigy as a mortician was beginning to shine through. Hotaru had always adored the funeral home herself, and upon finding out the news, she became that much more interested in pursuing mortuary work. Because of this, though, her cousin Ryuu started to bully her relentlessly, about everything from her appearance, to her interests, and more. This bullying continued well into high school.
Hotaru’s side of the family was very excited about Hotaru’s seemingly-natural talents as a mortician, so her father began letting her work alongside him almost immediately. Because of this, she grew to be at ease when she was around the dead. She also began to have a deep respect and reverence for the mortuary business. as she worked alongside Eiji, she began to see how important funeral homes were when families say goodbye to the deceased, as they were treated as sanctuaries where they could freely mourn and know that they were safe and in good hands. Because of these experiences, Hotaru had a particularly strong relationship with her father, as well, for which she was very thankful.
When Hotaru had grown a little older, she was assigned her first solo embalming by her father. The corpse was that of a young unidentified girl who had been killed and left in the side of the road. Because of Hotaru’s deep feelings for the dead, she gave the girl the name Ai, and began speaking to her as she worked on her body. This bond with the corpse became so great that even after the funeral, Hotaru began to bring flowers and other things to Ai’s grave, often staying there for hours to converse with her. Though it did not happen every time, sometimes Hotaru could swear that she felt the presence of the young girl beside her, and was comforted by the fact that Ai seemed to have taken a liking to her.
However, this bliss was soon to come to an end. Soon, the Tragedy struck Hotaru’s small town, and with it came death and destruction unlike anything she’d ever seen. The funeral home received lots of business because of this, and while Hotaru was glad for the business and the chance to do solo work, she was upset that everyone had to die in such horrid ways. Just when she thought it couldn’t get bad enough, though, the chaos escalated. somehow, someone discovered that a Yamashita was involved in the organ black market — however, they did not discover who the culprit was. and so, rumors started to fly. Soon, almost everyone who had heard of the funeral home believed that it was distributing organs, under Eiji’s direction. It eventually got so bad that he threatened to shut the home down permanently. Hotaru attempted to do some investigation herself, and this investigation led her to believe that Ryuunosuke, her cousin, was the one behind it all. Much to her dismay, though, her side of the family was so caught up in the scandal, and Ryuu’s was so distant, that it became nearly impossible to present her findings to them and have them believe them. After a lengthy investigation, the funeral home was cleared of all suspicion of involvement with the black market, but its reputation remained forever tarnished.
After the scandal, Hotaru began to work as she had before, albeit with a bit more resentment towards Ryuu in the process. Though he was distant, he still bullied her whenever he got the opportunity to. She grew to loathe him not only for the bullying, but also for ruining two of the greatest loves in her life: the funeral home, and her family. Soon after the Tragedy ended, however, news was spreading that the destroyed Kibougamine Academy was to be rebuilt, and that Hotaru was to attend with the title of SHSL Mortician. She was completely overjoyed and ecstatic, and was excited to go somewhere new and exciting like the city where no one like Ryuu was going to be. Hotaru was excited to perfect her craft even more, in a space where none of her past troubles were going to bother her, and where she could have a fresh slate away from drama and family struggles. Well… she was, until a certain someone decided to show up on campus one day.
Much to her dismay, Ryuu decided to attend Kibougamine Academy's Reserve Course, and, one day, he decided to show up on the Main Course. Hotaru was terrified of having her reputation demolished again. So, she tried to distance herself as much as possible from Ryuu, all the while trying to continue living her life as she wished. Despite the hardships, though, she managed to make it high school and keep a smile on her face.
As an adult, she acquired the Yamashita funeral home from her parents and ran it diligently, pouring every ounce of her love into the business.
old childhood friend. she can tolerate noriko's grilling, but hota knows she doesn't like her anymore.
storytelling friend. precious.
- (about ghosts) "They're so interesting! They've got such interesting stories to tell, and the way they talk and speak to the living is just so fascinating! Plus, it's nice to know that once you're gone in this realm, you still have the next to go to, and you're never truly gone."
- "...I'd like to help calm them, too. They should be allowed to rest peacefully."
- "There's nothing good inside him. I firmly believe that."
- "I've talked to him in the past. Nothing has changed. He'll always be selfish and disgusting. I... I shouldn't have to apologize for that."
- "Even then, he... He's hurting people. I know Mama and Papa and Aunt Airi and Uncle Tadaaki won't listen to me, but... I know what he's doing. I know he was the one who was selling those organs. He was the one who almost destroyed the business. And... And I know what other sorts of things he's done, too."
- The given name Hotaru (蛍) means "firefly". In Japanese mythology, fireflies are typically associated with the spirits of the dead.
- The surname Yamashita (山下) means “below the mountain”.
- Hotaru was originally designed to be apart of an original killing game written by Ash. Her name was originally Akiko Hirose, and was to be one of the killing game's survivors. Her backstory and personality have changed drastically since her conceptualization, and, originally, she was not going to have a cousin at all.