Manga Review | Hotaru Dies Tomorrow by Fuyu Saikawa



This review will contain spoilers for the and anime series Hotaru Dies Tomorrow. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.

Trigger Warning: There may be references to death, , break ups (not between main characters), child neglect, slut-shaming, mentions of teacher-student relationships (not between main characters), sexual assault, mentions of bullying, , violence, manipulation, and obsession, as it appears in the manga.


Saneatsu is in love, but not with a real person. He's in love with the main character of his favorite novel, the somber and hypersexual Hotaru – a cat-eyed beauty with dusty pink hair. Every partner he's ever had has never been able to compare to her, resulting in Saneatsu being dumped over and over again. He's lonely, but he longs for Hotaru and no one else. To his surprise, he runs into a young man with cat eyes and dusty pink hair. He kisses the man before he can control himself and asks him out.

The man, to Saneatsu's surprise, agrees, and the two start an intensely sexual relationship – exactly what Saneatsu would expect from being with his beloved Hotaru. This Hotaru's name is Nao, and his entire personality, likes and dislikes, reactions, and commentary all align with his beloved Hotaru. This is everything Saneatsu could have ever wanted in a relationship. But is Hotaru really the one Saneatsu wants to be in a relationship with?


This art is very sketchy, which might be somewhat deceptive based on the cover. I wouldn't call this pretty by any means, and in most panels, I'd even say it was ugly. So, if clean and consistent art is required for your enjoyment of a manga, turn away now. The characters are also extremely hard to identify, particularly Yuuta and Saneatsu, as they look near-identical. Granted, this does play a narrative role, which I appreciated, but it makes some scenes impossible to discern as the two interact. While I can understand the use of similar designs narratively and functionally, it is really rough. The reading experience in this one is less than ideal, which is so unfortunate. We'll talk about why it is so crucial that Yuuta and Saneatsu look similar later on, but that doesn't make this any easier to read art-wise.

Cover art for Hotaru Dies Tomorrow by

Where this shines, though, is in the narrative, which, for me, makes up for a lot when it comes to poorer art styles like this one. The concept for this title is really interesting, with Nao changing himself entirely to gain Saneatsu's love, which is all based on a fictional woman from a novel. Every relationship Saneatsu has ever had was sidelined in favor of his unrelenting love for Hotaru. Though he could receive love and affection from his partners, they could never stand up to what he perceived as true love and affection as given to him from the pages of Hotaru's story. That is, until Nao embodies Hotaru. Then, he gets a taste of what loving a real person is like, and though he often compares it to what he reads about Hotaru, even the love he gets from Hotaru can't compare to the real thing. His ability to perceive physical love and affection beyond the kind he has glorified in his mind can't be altered until he experiences it in reality with his Hotaru-doppelganger, Nao.

However, the focus quickly shifts from Saneatsu's obsession to how he can change to secure Nao's love. When Nao begins to stray off of the storyline from the novel, this appears to be the end of Saneatsu's disillusionment. However, rather than be disappointed, he finds himself to be thankful, as Hotaru's love is characterized as being temporary and fleeting. While Saneatsu longs for a lover like Hotaru, the reality of that kind of lover is that he would never have her heart entirely. But then it is revealed that he might not have all of Nao's love with the introduction of Nao's childhood friend Yuuta. As it turns out, Yuuta looks like Saneatsu. Just as Nao functions as a physical equivalent to Hotaru, Saneatsu realizes he might be a physical equivalent to Yuuta for Nao. This realization is the start of his change, as he realizes being loved as a stand-in for someone else, fictional or otherwise, isn't love at all.

This leads to a major shift for Saneatsu. He realizes he doesn't want Hotaru's love. He wants Nao's. But to gain Nao's love, he must win him over as Saneatsu, not Yuuta. This shift in power dynamics is one that I absolutely eat up. Nao changes everything about himself to win Saneatsu's affection, but now Saneatsu has to alter his garbage expectations and his romantic obsession with Hotaru to earn Nao's love. It puts all of the power in Nao's hands, and when Nao decides to reveal his true self, he declares that if Saneatsu can't love him for who he is, they can't continue. This would usually be the end of their relationship, as Saneatsu inevitably lost most of his lovers in a similar fashion. But this shows Saneatsu's growth, as well as the intensity of the love he's developed for Nao, willing to throw away his obsession and expectations as Nao is worth losing both for. I love it. Love it, love it, love it.


This embodies “fantasy versus reality” in a story. Saneatsu longs for a fantasy that comes true, only for that fantasy to bite him in the ass, and he realizes the person he has in front of him is far superior to any fantasy. I love this. It's bittersweet and painful but resolves in a meaningful and satisfying way. It never loses focus and really develops the concept into something smutty and meaningful. It's just great.

Have you read Hotaru Dies Tomorrow? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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