TV | Wide Angle

'Terrace House' returns to Tokyo

by Tom Hanaway

Staff Writer

Netflix is ramping up its production of original Japanese content, including anime and live-action dramas, to please both domestic and overseas subscribers. But arguably its most important export is “Terrace House,” the reality show that films three men and three women living together under one roof as they go on dates, attend concerts and eat konnyaku jelly.

“Terrace House” has garnered international attention and has been written about by the likes of The New York Times, Vulture and Time. The show also has an active online fan base that uses Reddit and Twitter to catalog the best moments from each episode.

After a successful season in the resort town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, the show has returned to its urban roots with “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020,” which premiered on Netflix on May 14. Set in the shadow of next year’s Olympic Games, this season will focus on new members as they navigate careers, love and the stresses of city life.

The lead up to the premiere saw the internet trying to lap up every juicy detail it could find about the six new faces. The official “Terrace House” YouTube account posted previews of each cast member (their faces never fully in focus), and online sleuths were able to hunt down names and Instagram accounts within hours.

The first episode saw the show return to form with the new members moving into a three-story home (pool included) in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward. The housemates include an illustrator, a store clerk, a fitness trainer, a singer and two aspiring actors, which is part and parcel for the show at this point. The show has become something of a launchpad for entertainment careers since the first episode back in 2012, when its debut cast featured a wannabe actor, a burgeoning model and even a member of idol group AKB48.

As “Terrace House” has become an international hit, a variety of actors, models, singers and fashion designers have gone on to start their personal brands with varying degrees of success. Lauren Tsai has done well by collaborating with fashion designer Marc Jacobs and landing a role in the next season of “Legion,” the TV spinoff of “X-Men.” Tsai has also created artwork for Starbucks and Marvel Comics.

However, her former roommate and co-star, Taishi Tamaki, an actor who wanted to “find a love worth dying for” during his time on the Hawaii-based “Aloha State” series, only has four gigs listed on his IMDb page — one of which is the aforementioned show.

And what else can we expect from “Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020”? It seems the show will continue to stick to what works. The biggest event from three seasons ago was a fight dubbed by fans as the “meat incident,” in which the housemates caused a fuss by eating another roommate’s prized beef without saving him a slice. And this season? Well, the second episode is simply titled, “Tempura Incident.”

New episodes of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” stream on Netflix on Tuesdays and, from June, on Fuji On Demand (FOD) on Mondays. Hear The Japan Times’ “Terrace House” podcast at bit.ly/THpod.