I have committed a grave error against Mari in my write-up yesterday. Redditor necktie_13 mentioned that most of Mari’s reactions with regard to Kiyoshi were unspoken, and that led me to a gaffe in analysis. Because I’m very used to textual analysis, I didn’t pay too much attention toward Mari’s facial reactions in regard to Kiyoshi. However, Mari’s interaction with him have gained a considerable amount of softness. Prior to even the incidence between them with the snakes, Mari subtly has already modified her perspective towards Kiyoshi during their conversation in chapter 112.
Instead of berating Kiyoshi, she understands that he was truly trying to help Meiko as she fell off the ladder without any intention of harassing her.
Another notable interaction between the two of them occur during the chapter with the snakes (chapter 120): while he was bitten by a viper, Mari was actually reminded of her father with Kiyoshi. Despite the fact that their relations have soured during her time in Hachimitsu, it’s undeniable that her perspective of males is being slowly rehabilitated because of Kiyoshi. Chapter 118 also shows her being visibly flustered at the thought that (surprise!) not all men are out to only have sex with or use women.
Her flustered appearance is once again repeated in chapter 121, when Kiyoshi vows to save her above himself.
Her emotional investment in Kiyoshi percolated through the next few chapters until chapter 124, where she slaps him because he wanted to grope her before dying as he believe he was poisoned. This was no longer the distant Mari, aloof from all men. She felt offended — more importantly, however, she asked Kiyoshi for forgiveness because she had started to understand him, not as a piece of garbage, but as a person.
She becomes more willing to have physical contact with him, even if that were because of a reward.
By chapter 129, she smiles openly in front of Kiyoshi.
Later on, in fact, she once again loses her composure when Kiyoshi attempts to send a message to the men.
She blushes for the first time while asking forgiveness from Kiyoshi a second time in chapter 131. When we are embarrassed with the person we treasure, we blush. People don’t blush towards people they don’t take emotional stock in: people blush towards people they give a damn about.
And, of course, after affecting her escape, she speaks to Kiyoshi in chapter 166. Her perspective of him has clearly transformed: he is at the very least a good friend, but it seems that he may become so much more. Particularly telling is the ninth page of their conversation: instead of ‘we,’ she rephrases her answer toward Kiyoshi: ‘once this battle is over, take me out to eat some delicious yakiniku, Kiyoshi.’
When Kiyoshi touches her breast in chapter 204, she doesn’t even react in an overly violent manner. She slaps him, but actually slaps him harder when he was fondling Meiko.
Finally, in chapter 205, both Hana and Mari affect shock when Kiyoshi tells them he’d confess to Chiyo.
She shows disappointment.
Hers is probably the slowest tale of love to develop among the three characters Kiyoshi has had protracted interactions with, but it’s also equally tragic as Hana’s. They started off being biased against him, yet despite that he proved them wrong and showed them his propriety every time. While she still has to overcome her misandry, it’s clear that the snow queen’s heart has already melted. Sadly, her king is in love with her sister.