In the last post, we identified the third personality Alpha as one of Utsumi’s unborn twins, but that’s not the only odd personality. Let’s look at another mysterious personality, Inubushi Keiko, or “Suzukage Hotori” as she likes to call herself.
Is Hotori a DID personality?
The black-haired woman at SPHIA behaves quite erratically, but one thing is always true: she is calm and mute in Kokoro’s route and provocative and talkative in Satoru’s route. Since Inubushi has Dissociative Identity Disorder, we initially assume Suzukage Hotori is just one of Inubushi’s personalities.
But we find a woman with the same name at the mountain cabin, buried in the snow near the cabin. Hotori’s name is also listed as one of the people that died in the HAL18 crash. So let’s treat the “Hotori” and “Inubushi” personalities separately.
The key to unlocking their mystery is the fact that Satoru only ever sees the talkative personality and Kokoro only sees the mute one. Inubushi’s personality exchanges are synchronized exactly with the protagonists’, and that can only happen if Inubushi and Hotori are also experiencing the exchange phenomenon. Satoru brings this up at one point, saying:
“I think Hotori was dragged into the transference phenomenon the same way it happened to you, me, and the third personality.”
The evidence comes from Hotori’s descriptions. After one of her tantrums in Kokoro’s route, Hotori writes down:
red room, red light, seemed, warm, room
A warm red room that doesn’t exist in SPHIA or the cabin. This description sounds a lot like the description of Utsumi’s womb. Remember that the exchange phenomenon happens across 3 areas with 3 personalities. Since Utsumi is carrying twins, it’s possible for Hotori and Inubushi to be exchanging with one of the babies while the protagonists are exchanging with the other.
The remainder of her description says:
cold, dark, locked up, all alone
red room, enter
The real Hotori’s body is outside the cabin nearly buried in snow. If Hotori is partially conscious in the snow, her description of a cold, dark, lonely area seems fitting. And we have reason to believe she’s still alive since she has enough strength to move her fingers on the 7th day.
So that sets up our second set of transfers involving the mute Hotori buried in the snow, the unpredictable Inubushi at SPHIA and the twin sleeping in the womb. For convenience, we’ll call this other baby “Omega” in contrast to “Alpha”. It also mirrors one of the prologue scene titled the “The Alpha and Omega”.
TIPS 105 and 108 confirm this exchange, saying that Inubushi’s body is controlled by Hotori’s personality in Kokoro’s route, and Inubushi in Satoru’s route.
TIPS 105 – Inubushi Keiko
The one that Kokoro sees is the real Suzukage Hotori. The body is the same, but they’re different individuals.
Inubushi Keiko mainly appears in the SPHIA side of the story.
TIPS 108 – Suzukage Hotori
After being caught in the plane crash, she wandered alone in the snowy mountains before eventually collapsing in the middle of a snowfield. Due to the space-time transfer phenomenon, her mind transfers in and out of Inubushi’s body.
Suzukage Hotori mainly appears in the SPHIA side of the story. However, the body she resides in is Inubushi Keiko’s. Her real body lies in the middle of a snow field. (The “Hotori” that Satoru sees is Inubushi.)
TIPS 108 also tells us that Hotori is mute because she suffers from acute aphasia. In other words, the trauma from the plane crash caused some mental trauma which resulted in her losing the ability to speak. Considering that memories and personalities transfer during the exchange, it isn’t too strange to think that mental trauma also transfers.
During her stay at SPHIA, Hotori has a few episodes where she starts freaking out, and those tend to happen when she’s in a room with a mirror. Imagine being in a plane crash, waking up in a strange building without the ability to speak, having random daydreams about a warm red room and a cold dark room, then suddenly looking in the mirror and seeing that the reflected face is not yours. Of course it’s natural for her to freak out, and it’s worsened when Kokoro pins her down, thinking the murderous personality is coming out. Later on, she awakens in a pool of blood holding a knife. She doesn’t slash Yuni because she’s violent, but because she’s panicked and he moved up to her.
But she also has a random tantrum on the third day, without looking at a mirror. Well, that’s when the snowstorm started dying down, and that’s when she realizes exactly what’s happening to her body.
The Shadow that Couldn’t Live
And unfortunately for her, she ultimately dies in her own body. Her body is retrieved and she is listed as one of the victims of the crash. And contrary to what Satoru believes, Inubushi didn’t die in Hotori’s body on the first day since Hotori’s body survives until the 7th day. Inubushi is still as talkative as ever in the epilogue.
As a side note, something that could have helped her to live until the 7th day is the transfer phenomenon. At each transfer, Hotori’s body spends 33 minutes in the Third Area and another 33 minutes at Aosagi Island, both of which are likely warmer than the mountain. It also seemed she was under some snow, which protects her from having her heat stolen by the wind. That could have let her stay warm enough not to freeze to death.
A Natural Troublemaker
But that begs the question: Why does Inubushi identify herself as Hotori? How does she even know her name?
That’s probably because Hotori met Yuni when he first came to SPHIA, curled up in his room. The real Hotori must have written her name for him because he later refers to her as Hotori. After returning to her own body, Inubushi finds a strange boy calling her by a strange name.
If she really has Dissociative Identity Disorder, she might have gotten used to her other personalities doing weird things and went along with it. Or she’s just a pathological liar. Her bio says she likes to “attract others’ attention” and “she takes pleasure in trifling with her surroundings, often causing problems”. She is a natural troublemaker, and we see that throughout the story.
Let’s look at some of the symbolic language in the game, namely the scenes where Hotori’s body appears. Two scenes are titled: “Another Shadow” and “The Shadow that Couldn’t Live”. Since Inubushi’s archetype is the shadow, the fact that Hotori is referred to as “another shadow” implies duality with Inubushi. In the end, however, that shadow dies in the snowy mountain.
The last scene where she appears is called “Hekate”. Hekate is a goddess from ancient Greek mythology, often depicted as a triple entity with three forms. Three forms, one essence. That sounds a lot like the exchange phenomenon. TIPS 99 says Hekate is a goddess of water, death and the moon. If I had to make a guess, the water refers to the amniotic fluid where the baby resides, and the moon refers to the monthly cycle or maidenhood of Hotori. Inubushi has a fixation on death, being the perpetrator of the killing spree and her self-harming nature which is mentioned in the TIPS. The moon can also imply the shadow/light duality as the phases of the moon pass.
Since all three forms of Hekate are female, it implies that Omega, the baby in the transfers, is also female. This is confirmed by the timeline released with the PSP version. It’s interesting that Inubushi threatens the life of the baby with pink clothes, which I assume is the female. Perhaps Inubushi was able to detect that this child was the one causing her problems.
Let’s disassemble the name “Suzukage Hotori” (涼蔭 穂鳥).
涼 – cool breeze (can also be read as “Sayaka” when used as a name)
蔭 – shadow
Suzukage – Cold shadow, or “the frozen personality”
穂 – ear of rice
鳥 – bird, like the bird within the cage
Early in development, Hotori was written to have a more active role in the story. We know this because several of her sprites are found in the game files. At this point, she was called Hotori Kusuda and was intended to be the Trickster archetype. Her name (Ho-Torikusuta = Ho-trickster) would have been a pun on that. They preserved the archetype connection by giving the “Kusuda” name to Yuni.