If Episode 8 was like a long-lost episode of “Friends,” then Episode 9 was straight out of “Gossip Girl.” Did anyone else get stressed out watching Risako and Haruka go for each other’s throats? I felt like I needed a stiff drink to recover and I have to wonder if we’ll be getting our first departure from the house before long.
The episode jumps right back to the men’s bedroom where Haruka’s tears are spilling over thanks to Risako pulling a “Mean Girl” move and blabbing about Haruka’s feelings for Kenny. Haruka tries to take back some control by telling Kenny how she really feels. She was trying hard to get him to notice her! She’s been interested in him ever since they played the guitar together! But because of Risako’s unsolicited truth bomb, she was blindsided and suddenly felt exposed before she was ready for Kenny to know how she felt.
Kenny invites her to sit closer to him on the couch, but it goes downhill for Haruka from there. He starts by saying, “I find all three of you attractive,” referring to all of the women in the house, but goes on to say he’s most attracted to Risako — although it’s still too early to tell how much he wants to act on those feelings. And then comes the brutal truth.
“To be completely honest, I don’t see you as a potential partner. I don’t see myself having romantic feelings for you,” Kenny says. Those are hard words to hear, but Haruka takes the blows like a champ. At least the honesty of this conversation, and other conversations the roommates have been having lately, are releasing a lot of pent-up emotions.
When Haruka returns to the women’s bedroom, Risako doesn’t show the slightest sign of being sorry. Or rather, she’s sorry that Haruka is upset, but she digs in her heels when it comes to admitting she did anything wrong. She completely disregards the fact that it wasn’t her place to discuss someone else’s feelings in front of their crush.
“What, so I should just stand by and watch?” she asks. This conversation has to hurt Haruka, especially after hearing Kenny say he’s drawn to Risako and that he doesn’t see her as a romantic possibility.
And then the gloves come off and things get scary.
As the angsty rock soundtrack kicks up, the frenemies go at it. It’s not just about going after the same guy, it’s that their differences of opinion have clashed since day one. All of their hidden frustrations start spewing out and Risako’s language gets aggressive. When Risako tells Haruka “I’m really done with you playing the victim” for the cameras, Haruka counters by exposing Risako as a smoker (which she had been hiding because it’s a bad look for her, as a health expert). There’s no going back after a comment like that.
The night ends with Risako storming out and declaring that she’s going out partying to blow off steam, while Kaori comforts Haruka as she licks her wounds. “I wasn’t even confessing my feelings yet and I got rejected,” Haruka says about Kenny. And Kaori, ever the voice of reason, gently tells her to move on.
The next morning, Shohei comes home after spending the whole night partying with friends visiting from Taiwan. Since he missed the showdown, Kaori and Kenny give him a heads up that there’s been an intense fight. Kenny might be loving being the center of attention, though, because it’s stroking his ego to have two girls are arguing over him. The whole situation has the usually even-keeled Kaori on edge and showing flashes of irritation, especially after Kenny sums up the incident as a “crazy drama.” Shohei, meanwhile, writes it all off as a stupid waste of time, basically wandering out of the room muttering about First World problems.
When we switch to scenes of Kaori in a meeting with a clothing design company, it’s a very welcome change of pace. Watching Kaori kick butt at her job is a much-needed breather and I’m hoping to see her get more of her own storyline, rather than being sidelined as a mediator or a counselor.
Back at the house, our favorite ukulele player from the Hawaii season of “Terrace House,” Yusuke Aizawa, shows up unannounced at the apartment to hang out. Haruka quickly opens up to the sweet musician about what she’s been dealing with lately, and after listening to her woes, Yusuke responds with a proposition: He’s going away for a bit, but he’ll be back in Tokyo in July. If Haruka feels differently about Kenny then, would she want to go out with him? Haruka agrees and it’s nice to see her be cheerful and relaxed around someone. I know I’m not the only one who thinks there’s a spark there as Haruka herself says they have chemistry. But will it be enough for Yusuke to finally shed his reputation as being inexperienced and unlucky in love?
When Kenny gets home, Yusuke invites him to an impromptu jam session in the living room. The episode closes with Haruka struggling to keep it together yet again, this time as she sits between the man who rejected her and the man who likes her while the two play a charming duet, oblivious to her tears.
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 and Fuji TV on Demand (FOD) and air on Fuji TV on Tuesdays.