TV | 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020' Recaps

Ep. 16 'Orange Flavor First Kiss'

by Tom Hanaway

Staff Writer

This week’s episode of “Terrace House” was all about creating art — and some plot lines were totally drawn out.

While Emika and Peppe have settled into the house, everyone is still trying to figure them out. Emika has taken off her iconic leather cap, but she still has her defenses up. Even though she is the quietest person in the house by far, I wouldn’t call her shy.

One evening, everyone is lounging around and Shohei declares he’s taking a break from alcohol so he’s only drinking water. His resolve lasts as long as it takes Emika to bat her eyes and egg him on to have a beer with her. “You’re not drinking today? Don’t you want one?” she asks while pouting at him. Emika also doesn’t mind showing up in a risque cut out swimsuit during a very forced pool scene — a scene where nobody was having fun and everyone complained about how hot and humid it was. (Also, the opening credits have changed recently to show the cast in their bathing suits. Yikes.)

Peppe is making nothing but good impressions during his first week. He came off as a little obnoxious in the previous episode by shouting into the intercom and talking about the sexual plotlines in his manga, but in this episode we see more of the artistic passion behind his goofy persona.

We see Peppe cycle to the studio where he meticulously works on his manga with artist Keiko Nishi, who is most famous for her “Love Song” collection of short stories. Although we never see Nishi’s face, we do see her working side by side with Peppe without any cultural or language issues as Peppe draws diligently.

Peppe later shows his housemates his drawings and reveals how he was mostly self-taught. It is extremely engaging to watch everyone at the table talk about their artistic inspirations and personal styles instead of relying on rote conversations about who they have a crush on or what they like to drink.

Kaori, of course, also gets to show off her latest work: the illustration she created for Shohei’s freelance column. Shohei is thrilled with the results, so maybe the way to a man’s heart isn’t through his stomach but through free creative labor?

And speaking of “art” — a word I’m using loosely here — we have to talk about Ruka and his drawings. After hearing about Kaori and Peppe’s work, Ruka busts out his sketchbook to present what can be best described as immature doodles to Emika and attempts to explain what is going on: “At first glance, it looks like a child drew it. But there are deeper stories hidden within it,” Ruka says while Emika tries to hold back her giggles.

The scene goes from cringeworthy to facepalm-inducing as Ruka tries to write Emika’s name in Japanese, but he can’t quite understand how she spells it. He keeps asking if the “ka” in “Emika” is the common kanji character for “flower” (花), but she keeps trying to explain that it’s actually a more difficult one (華). “I don’t know how to write that,” Ruka confesses.

Ruka’s hopelessness has gone from cute to frustrating to downright troubling over the course of the show. The boy can’t cook, he can’t pick a career path, he doesn’t know what the word “plain” means, and now I suspect he wouldn’t be able to pass the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test.

From sad to sadder, we finally see the fate of Yusuke from “Terrace House: Aloha State.” After inviting Haruka to a fireworks show, she ends up declining by telling him — on the phone! — that she just doesn’t feel that way about him.

But that doesn’t stop Yusuke from heading to the fireworks festival alone and watching a pretty spectacular display of lights with no crush by his side. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as the time he ate dinner alone at a restaurant when Lauren Tsai basically ran away from him during a date on “Aloha State,” but it wasn’t an uplifting scene either.

It wasn’t all heartbreak in the house, though. Haruka and Peppe bond and flirt over homemade cocktails and pasta (take that Ruka and your broccoli abomination!) as the two spend an evening on the roof talking about love and food. Peppe says that the orange spritz they’re currently drinking reminds him of his first kiss, which also had a hint of orange to it. The commentators find his story very cute and romantic, but I have so many questions. Why did his first kiss taste like orange? Did the girl have orange chapstick? Was this girl just always eating oranges? I want more details, yet I’m afraid of more details.

The biggest romantic development this week was Kaori’s crush on Shohei. In a very meta way, she watched a previous episode of “Terrace House” in which Shohei says he likes blunt people, which worried Kaori because she tends to be more guarded about her feelings. During the pool scene, Haruka agrees with Kaori’s self-assessment and maybe goes a little too far. “That’s what makes me think you’ll only give me a polite answer and not the truth,” Haruka says.

Cry it out: Kaori sheds a tear after getting some blunt feedback from her roommates on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Cry it out: Kaori sheds a tear after getting some blunt feedback from her roommates on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

This exchange upsets Kaori to the point where she has to leave the room. She instantly bumps into Shohei, explains what just happened and asks him for his honest opinion about her. “Sometimes, I do think you’re a bit of a goody two-shoes around us,” Shohei says in his classic crass fashion, causing Kaori to cry.

At the end of the episode, Kaori and Shohei decide to sit down and let out everything, and I mean everything: Kaori isn’t fake, she’s just doesn’t want to say things that could hurt people; she has feelings for Shohei (he already knows — he also watches “Terrace House”); Shohei heard that Kaori was once engaged; Kaori stopped talking to her ex-boyfriend (not ex-fiance) because she likes Shohei; and Shohei doesn’t have a girlfriend — but he is having lots of hookups. The two seem relieved to get all of this off of their chests and decide to restart things by getting drinks sometime soon.

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.