After last week’s barn-burner of an episode, we needed a little bit of a breather. There are still plenty moments of joy this week, but first, let’s get the Kenny-Haruka-Risako love triangle out of the way.

The episode begins with Haruka and Shohei checking out a festival in Ebisu where their friends are performing. They watch “Aloha State” alumnus Yusuke Aizawa — who seems to be becoming a regular cast member at this point — jam out on his ukulele. Did he sell his soul to be featured this heavily on this season of “Terrace House”?

Haruka later tells Shohei that she couldn’t watch Kenny’s show because she’s still not completely over him. We see Kenny take the stage and look around the audience, but all he sees is Shohei making silly faces at him. Just before he starts to rock out — BAM! — we are back at the house and don’t get to see Kenny’s band play. I’m sure panelist Yama-chan is happy that Kenny is no longer receiving so much free airtime for his music career.

At the house, people pile into the kitchen and Risako tells the group that she hurt herself pretty badly while skateboarding. Haruka asks if it was a face plant — with just the slightest hint of shade.

Kenny asks Haruka to the rooftop and asks why she didn’t stay to watch him play at the Ebisu event. “I was looking for you in the audience,” he says before mumbling something about commitment and dreams, and hinting that she still has a shot with him. I was left wondering what had changed in the past few days, or if Kenny is just one of those guys who wants what he can’t have.

And I wasn’t the only one annoyed by this interaction. A few days later, during Kenny’s birthday party, it’s Risako’s turn to invite him to the roof where she pointedly asks why he talked to Haruka in private. Meanwhile, Haruka is downstairs bellyaching about her and Kenny’s chat and suspects he may be toying with her feelings. (Next to Haruka is a red-faced Ruka, who seems to have had too many party drinks and can’t keep up with the conversation.)

The roof gets an impromptu makeover courtesy of Risako and Kenny and, with a hammock, candles and fairy lights, it is transformed into the perfect at-home date spot. Risako presents Kenny with a hypothetical situation about a girl — who is totally not her — who likes a guy — who is totally not Kenny — and asks Kenny what she should do since he — I mean, the guy — is not taking things to the next level. Long story short, Risako gets Kenny to confirm he’s not into Haruka, he’s into her. Mission accomplished? Let’s hope so.

With that drama over we can focus on the best part of the episode: Ruka and Kaori’s blossoming romance. When Ruka admitted he was attracted to Kaori a few episodes ago, I thought she would pat him on the head like a puppy and it’d be over. Instead … could there be a spark here?

Throughout the episode, Kaori takes on a motherly role by serving Ruka food during Kenny’s birthday and zipping up his backpack before they head out on their date. A little embarrassing for Ruka, who doesn’t want to be treated like a little brother, but adorable nonetheless.

The pair head out to buy art supplies and get carried away trying out different markers and brushes — Kaori is clearly in her element. After shopping, Ruka takes her to a tamagokake-gohan (raw egg over rice) restaurant — which is the cutest thing ever! In Episode 3, Kaori loved the classic dish during her date with Shohei after admitting she never had it before, so clearly Ruka stored that bit of trivia in the back of his brain. He’s definitely putting his best food forward because Kaori looks like she’s having a blast.

Kaori confesses that she’s nervous talking to Ruka, but it’s not just him — she’s nervous talking to anyone one-on-one. She’s also surprised that a strapping young man like him would want to go out with an “old hag” like her. I mean, eight years is a pretty big gap, but Ruka insists he doesn’t see her as much older. Age ain’t nothing but a number.

The two flirt nonstop till after the meal when Kaori pays for all the food despite Ruka sputtering that he doesn’t feel right (since dinner was his idea). Kaori snaps back into mom mode and says she wouldn’t allow a 20-year-old to take the check.

The whole house seems to be rooting for this new potential couple as everyone excitedly asks them how the date went. Both say they had an amazing time, but Kaori worries if she’ll ever see Ruka as a man instead of a boy.

Final thoughts

  • Ruka and Kaori are the hot new couple. I will fight for them. I’m already printing off fan T-shirts. They’re the least likely to pair up — an established 28-year-old illustrator with an upcoming gallery exhibition and a 20-year-old part timer who spends his days off watching kids’ movies. But here we are. I knew they were meant to be when Kaori said she was excited to see Ruka grow in his career, which is the exact same thing Ruka said about Kaori in Episode 7. What’s their couple name? Rukari? Kaoka? I’ll work on it.
  • Um, Shohei just casually mentions that he’s going to star in a softcore pink movie? Are we going to follow up on that? Readers, just taking a poll here. If a roommate of yours said they were going to be in an adult film, what would you do? I don’t think Haruka’s reaction of “Oh!” and then asking to read the script is a standard answer.

The Japan Times is 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.

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