Last week’s episode of “Terrace House” made it look like the housemates were on the verge of pairing off into couples: Emika and Ruka; Haruka and Peppe; and Hana and Ryo. The commentators love how harmonious and lovey-dovey the house has become (with the positive mood making their own lives feel stress free). But just as things are settling down, everyone’s shot at love is starting to slip away.
The couple I’m rooting for, Hana and Ryo, make some progress, going from cordial to friendly. Hana, who says she is usually petrified when trying to talk to a crush, finally starts to open up with Ryo, bantering with him while shopping and cooking in the kitchen — and without hiding behind any pillows this time! She has a cute moment where she asks Ryo the “amount” of food he wants, using the Japanese word ryō. To someone not paying close attention, this could sound as if Hana is addressing Ryo without using a suffix like -san or -kun, which can come off as rude or overly familiar in Japanese. Hana panics and tries to explain what she meant, but Ryo doesn’t seem to care. I think he’s more concerned about all the dirty dishes piling up as they make dinner.
Hana’s infatuation moves from the kitchen to the basketball court, as we see her in the stands at one of Ryo’s games, screaming “Kakkoii!” (“Cool!”) throughout the game. But it looks like she’s about to have some competition, because there’s someone else in the bleachers vying for Ryo’s attention: Emika.
Yes, after spilling the beans last week that she had the hots for Ruka, Emika has changed her mind and thinks Ryo might be a worthwhile contender. Haruka and Emika wonder aloud if they actually like Peppe and Ryo, respectively, and they openly discuss how a good personality only goes so far. “I guess if you can imagine making out with him and stuff (then you like him),” Haruka says. “It really comes down to if you’d want to be physical with him,” Emika concurs.
Emika takes her flirtation with the man of the hour a step further — commentator Yama-chan likens it to a light jab directed at Hana — by wearing an authentic Ryo Tawatari T-shirt around the house (blink and you’ll miss it but that is Ryo dressed up as Jack Sparrow) and texting him “I’m wearing this shirt every day till you come home.”
“What did you feel? Jealousy?” Haruka asks Hana out of concern, who mumbles something about how they might have a date in the future at some point, somewhere.
While Hana is on the ropes, Peppe may be running out of time. He admits to some colleagues from the manga industry that he has a crush on a girl in the house — one that likes Pokemon no less! — but nothing is progressing. But soon after, Haruka decides to take Peppe out for a spin in her Chevrolet Corvette to a soba shop she knows in Shizuoka. Away from the city and prying eyes in the house, the two sit down for a nice meal in the quiet countryside at, um, her ex-boyfriend’s favorite restaurant. It’s at this point that Haruka drops the bomb: She’s leaving “Terrace House,” more or less hitting the brakes on their budding romance.
Peppe is shocked. I’m guessing he saw this road trip as the start of their romance, not the end. Haruka says that so many business opportunities are popping up — I think this is code for sponsored Instagram posts — so it’s time for her to go and flourish. But Peppe isn’t throwing in the towel yet.
The two take a walk and settle on a bench with a view of Hakone’s Lake Ashi before Peppe makes a bold move. He wants to take Haruka on a real date to a fancy cocktail bar before she goes for good. Peppe previously told the story of how he couldn’t muster the courage to ask out a beautiful woman he saw on a bus back in Italy, a missed chance he regrets to this day. He’s not making that same mistake with Haruka.
Knock, knock — Is Ruka home?
Remember that time Ruka explained his unique artistic expression to Emika during Episode 16 and how awkward it was? We had to suffer through that scene, and in this week’s episode, so does Ruka, as he watches himself on TV, sinking in his seat. He later talks to Haruka about how he was so frustrated by how he came across in the aired episodes.
This meta moment of Ruka watching himself brings up a bigger topic: What has he been doing with his life recently? The last we heard from him, he was interviewing for a part-time job at a Marvel-themed bar after proclaiming that he wanted to become Spider-Man. Since then, he’s made brief appearances in the living room or tried to help more well-versed members prepare dinner, but that’s about it. Back in the studio, Yama-chan throws in his two cents, saying, “I’m not saying Ruka is dead to me. I’m saying his scenes are dull.”
It feels like Ruka’s time on “Terrace House” is almost up. He hasn’t hit it off with any of the women, his career is stuck in the mud, and he’s not even obnoxiously using the show to boost his personal brand (he was the last person on the show to create an Instagram account). So what is next for Ruka?
“Next, we’ll see him fail at cooking something,” Yama-chan jokes. Given what we’ve seen of Ruka so far, he’s probably right.
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.