Based on the title alone, my expectations going into episode two of “Terrace House” — titled “Tempura Incident” — were high. Viewers of the “Boys & Girls in the City” season are sure to remember the infamous “meat incident” of 2016 where the housemates ate a roommate’s special beef without saving him a piece. Would we be so lucky this early in the season to see the housemates embroiled in a similarly dramatic affair?
The episode starts in the morning with Haruka, Kaori, Risako and Kenny relaxing in the kitchen and discussing their plans for the 10-day Golden Week holiday period in early May. This is where we learn about one of Haruka’s interests: drag racing. She’s planning on racing her 2007 Chevrolet Corvette in a competition in Tochigi Prefecture, and her housemates (as well as the commentators and yours truly) are surprised — it’s not a hobby you hear about often. She also mentions that she likes watching golf and admits, “I’m such an old geezer,” which sets her apart from previous model housemates.
The conversation takes a sharp turn, though, when Risako casually asks Kenny if he gets angry easily. While it’s natural for the roommates to dig for details and get each other to open up, Risako’s assessment that Kenny “might be trying to act cool” seems a little harsh, especially when he tells his friends later, “I thought I was being myself.”
We’re treated to shots of Ruka and Kaori at their workplaces — Murasaki Sports and a design studio, respectively — before moving on to yet another meal scene. Haruka bakes little casseroles of nattō (fermented soybean) curry, which Kaori and Kenny happily gobble down. The pair then share a really nice moment discussing the different tools they use for illustrating before Haruka suddenly announces she wants to learn how to play the guitar. Her pinkie is unusually short, she says, so she has trouble forming an F chord. Kenny offers to help her out.
Kenny’s lingering glance in Kaori’s direction as Haruka struggles to strum an F chord gave me hope for the two illustrators, although the image of Kenny and Haruka hunched over a guitar together made for an admittedly romantic scene. Haruka takes the opportunity to ask Kenny out to her friend’s live show in Daikanyama, and we have our second date of the series in the works!
Although Ruka doesn’t look too thrilled when Kenny tells him about his plans with Haruka, at least the women seem to agree that Kenny is softening his guarded demeanor.
And finally! We get to the moment the title promised us. Shohei and Kaori make nikujaga (simmered meat and potatoes) for dinner and the housemates enjoy a friendly meal until Shohei starts listing all of his professional interests — modeling, acting, filming music videos, writing lyrics and writing novels. This doesn’t sit well with Haruka. She argues that it might be better to have one special passion to focus on as opposed to pursuing multiple interests, otherwise people might think Shohei is “aimless and confused.” Shohei’s unconvincing retort is that, “people with that archaic mindset will grow old and die off,” and after a bit more hounding, he serves up this unsatisfying metaphor, “I love tempura but it wouldn’t taste good if I had it every day.” Kaori and Kenny gently accept Shohei’s reasoning but Haruka’s steely expression closes the scene, and that’s basically the entire squabble.
Sure, there was some palpable tension and it was uncomfortable to watch Shohei squirm while he tried to justify himself while keeping things light, but the exchange hardly seemed worthy of a callback to Uchi’s heartbreak over beef. It did remind me of the tense conversation about career goals between Yuki the tap dancer and Mizuki the barista back in “Boys & Girls in the City,” but thankfully the “Tempura Incident” didn’t end in tears.
In the final scene with the whole crew (minus Haruka who has to get up at 4 a.m. to go and play golf) gathered, Risako and Ruka make plans to see a “Detective Conan” anime movie about a man-turned-child detective. Risako good-naturedly says, “I’m not interested but I’ll try it” and Ruka can barely hide his blushing face with a pillow.
So while the episode lacked the juiciness of the “meat incident” I hoped for, it did dish out plans for two new dates and at least three potential couples. I, for one, can’t wait to dig into episode 3.
The Japan Times will be posting weekly recaps of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.” Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. New episodes of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” stream on Netflix on Tuesdays, on Fuji TV on Demand (FOD) from June 11 on Tuesdays, and will air on Fuji TV from July.