Mariko is desired by both Usagi and Kenichi. She is a highly attractive and passionate character as presented in Usagi’s flashback. She mischeviously paints a moustache on Usagi and plays a sexy game of tag with him.
When she and Usagi are reunited, she briefly loses her self restraint and flings herself into his arms, asking him why he had to leave. Then she berates herself for acting ‘lovesick. Mariko asks him at one point, “Remember out last pinic, Usagi?” He replies, “I could never forget.” They smile in a tender, shy way, it’s hard not to adore them here.
He is a superb fighter and an honorable man. Elsewhere in Circles, he is praised by his former teacher and spared by the shogun who sees his potential even as a child.
Usagi does not find out till years later that he is the father of Mariko’s child. Part of the reason he does not even guess is that she quickly married Kenichi and he felt broken hearted over that and the second reason is that he has been fighting for survival ever after. The story in this volume does not reveal why she did not inform Usagi as soon as she knew. You’d think she would at least present him with the information, and make plans based on his reaction.
She did tell Kenichi, however, which is another hint that their relationship is more important to her than it appears to be. In the volume following Circles, Usagi tells his friend Tomoe Ame that Jotaro is his son. She’s sweet on him so this shocks her a bit. I think that the fact that Usagi and Mariko each turn to someone else to discuss Jotaro, shows that their relationship with each other is not that trustworthy.
The characters don’t move from the infatuation stage to the attachment stage as they don’t form a durable and long-lasting bond. They seem unable to make room for each other in their daily or public lives. They seem to remain something of fantasy figures to each other.
In a typical romance, the act of saving the secret baby from a kidnapper would be ample proof that Usagi is a suitable lover and father. But, since this is not a romance, it simply drives the couple further apart.
Usagi nearly dies after rescuing Jotaro and he is saved by Kenichi. This deed ends any sort of eloping-with-Mariko plans Usagi might have had.
The Recognition Scene: null
The Betrothal: null
Usagi, though a good person, is a disruptive character who brings unlawful passion and violence and instability to his village home.Kenichi and Mariko close rank and make Usagi unwelcome in his own home. Thus, Usagi exiles himself at the conclusion.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon directed by Ang Lee. About as close as you are going to get to the Usagi/Mariko love story.