TV | 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020' Recaps

Ep. 12 'Always Chillin"

by Tom Hanaway

Staff Writer

For this week’s episode of “Terrace House,” we are back to familiar territory. No more explosive fights and unexpected nude scenes. Instead, we have what the die-hard fans expect: slow-burning love and close ups of tasty food.

Kenny and Risako like each other and Risako and Haruka have buried the hatchet, so the love triangle in the house is officially finito. However, there is one new problem between the girls: They have unfollowed each other on Instagram.

When all three girls gather in their bedroom, Haruka sheepishly asks Kaori in a whisper whether they should talk about Instagram, trying to gently broach the subject with Risako. Haruka claims that she tried to mute Risako’s account immediately after their big fight in Episode 9 but accidentally blocked her instead — instantly removing her as a follower.

The commentators are not convinced, especially Yama-chan who says this is a backdoor way of apologizing. Risako doesn’t seem to care either way, saying it’s fine, but neither brings up the idea of just, you know, re-following each other. I guess seeing each other in person is enough.

Now that the air has been cleared somewhat, Risako and Kenny are free to openly pursue each other without any more Haruka-shaped obstacles. Risako expects to go on a real date next time, so Kenny has to put on his thinking cap and come up with something good. His grand plan? Stand-up paddleboarding at Zushi beach, south of Tokyo, at sunset before confessing his love. A very romantic idea, but there’s just one major hitch. A typhoon is expected to hit on their day together, so they have to come up with a plan B.

While bumming around one morning, Kenny decides to put together an impromptu day at the beach — inside their house. He invites Risako to sit by the pool and split open a watermelon before serenading her with a song. This actually feels more intimate and lovey-dovey than Kenny’s original idea.

At the end of the episode, Kenny finally confesses to Risako that he likes her. A lot. Risako avoids eye contact while murmuring that she doesn’t know what to say before the credits start rolling. Looks like we’re not getting a repeat of her blurting “date me” this time.

Meanwhile, Ruka and Kaori continue to grow ever so slightly closer. Ruka tries to redeem himself by cooking paella for Kaori’s surprise birthday party — proving to her that he cares and to everyone else that he is a mature adult. (Although, did anyone else suspect that Shohei had a hand in the meal?) The two are chit-chatting about manga when Ruka runs off and brings her his copies of “Attack on Titan,” coaxing out a nerdier side of her that the others have not seen before.

Ruka also stuns everyone when he gives Kaori a birthday present — some beauty products including anti-UV spray lotion — but he fumbles when he says it protects against “infrared rays” instead of “ultraviolet” rays. The house can’t stop giggling over his little mistake, which made me pretty upset. He’s trying, people! Cut him some slack.

Ruka goes even further by offering to help Kaori set up her upcoming gallery exhibition. She gladly accepts and gives him an invitation to the event that features a drawing close to her heart. “This is the one you complimented me on,” she says. Ruka looks touched and replies, “I remember. It was the first one (of your drawings that) I saw.”

But Kaori has a deep, dark secret! When talking to Risako while a little tipsy, she admits that she’s still interested in Shohei. Yes, the mysterious, naked film star himself. Kaori says that she’s racking her brain about what to talk about on her next date with Ruka, but she always feels more comfortable chatting with Shohei.

Some of the commentators are shocked by her confession and wonder what the heck she sees in Shohei. Yama-chan breaks it down by saying that if you were stranded on an island with two chimpanzees (Ruka and Kenny), the first human to show up (Shohei) would seem amazing. An apt explanation if I ever heard one. So, now we have to wait and see if Kaori will choose man or monkey.

Let’s talk about the Instagram incident — in Japanese

If you ever want to confront your frenemies about why they unfollowed you on social media, here are a few key Japanese words to use that you may have heard on this week’s episode.

  • インスタ (insuta): Just like in English, young Japanese people like to shorten Instagram to simply “Insta.”
  • ブロック (burokku): Another easy word taken directly from “blocking” someone online.
  • フォロー (forō): Sensing a pattern? Forō, meaning “follow,” is taken from English.
  • 外す (hazusu); This verb means to remove something, but in this instance it means to remove someone as a follower.
  • オフ (ofu): This can literally mean to turn something off, but for social media in means muting somebody, which is what Haruka alleges she did to Risako.
  • SNS: Technically an English word, SNS means “social networking services” and is the term Japanese people use instead of “social media.”

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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