I propose a very low-stakes drinking game for watching the recent episodes of “Terrace House” — you’ll probably be parched by the end credits, though. Whenever Ruka appears on screen, take a sip of your beverage of choice. His appearances have become so rare lately that he’s basically making cameos at this point, and seeing him on screen deserves some form of acknowledgment.

What we’re not lacking on this show is romantic intrigue, specifically between Hana, Ryo and Emika. Hana’s crush on Ryo is obvious to everyone watching, but Emika has been making subtle moves to win over the basketball player by wearing his fan merch and, if that wasn’t subtle enough, texting him to tell him that she’s wearing it.

This week’s episode kicks off with Emika casually mentioning to the other girls that she and Ryo have been staying up late together, watching old episodes of “Terrace House” on his laptop in the playroom (not the Netflix-and-chill she’s probably hoping for), as Hana shoots her some suspicious glaces. Realizing she has a rival for Ryo’s attention, Hana steps up her game the next day and we’re treated to an even more aggressive side of this pro-wrestler.

Before heading out to compete in her championship match, Hana makes a deal with Ryo. If she wins, her prize is that he spends an entire day with her. Considering that the matches are staged, she must already know that she’s coming home victorious. It’s a cute set-up, regardless, and props to Hana for taking initiative. As expected, we see all the roommates at the match, cheering her on as she tosses her opponent around the ring and beats her, scoring a crown, a trophy and a sweet robe.

Queen of the world: Hana (right) is crowned the champion at a wrestling match on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Queen of the world: Hana (right) is crowned the champion at a wrestling match on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

So, off Ryo and Hana go to Hakone for their first date — a dip in an onsen (hot-spring bath). Onsen are often public baths where you strip down to your birthday suit and soak in the hot spring water until your cares melt away. Hana and Ryo opt for an outing with less nudity at what can only be described as a hot-spring amusement park in which everyone wears bathing suits and slips down water slides. The two have some flirty fun deciding between a frilly bikini or a leopard-print one-piece for Hana and gossiping about what’s going on between Emika and Ruka.

It turns out that as well as spending a lot of time playing video games, Emika and Ruka are also watching rom-coms and taking naps together — naps, everyone. Calm down. But Emika gets defensive when Hana calls her out for her joint siesta in front of Ryo. Emika insists that she didn’t know that Ruka was sleeping next to her and that Ruka chose the movie, not her. Ryo jokes about being jealous and wanting to snooze with someone as well, but the jibe doesn’t crack Emika’s sourpuss expression. Later on, Emika confides in Haruka how much she didn’t like Hana insinuating that she and Ruka are an item based on their behavior, especially since she doesn’t see him as a love interest anymore. Haruka smartly says open communication is the best move because “a small issue like that could escalate quickly and create drama.” I love that Haruka has become the voice of reason since Kaori’s departure.

Unfortunately, Peppe makes some strong Negroni cocktails for everyone (including Ruka! Take a sip at home, viewers!) and it’s in a slightly tipsy state that Emika invites Hana down to the playroom for a little chat. The conversation quickly turns into a confrontation, though. Emika makes her case about not wanting her relationship with Ruka to be misinterpreted by Hana as something romantic, but surprisingly, Hana’s fightin’ side comes out. While Chanmina’s banger, “I’m a Pop,” soundtracks the simmering tension between the two, Hana counters that Emika’s actions are to blame for the misunderstanding and she shouldn’t be watching rom-coms and taking naps with someone she’s not interested in. Hold on, so is Hana “nap-shaming” Emika?

In the end, Hana says she understands how Emika feels but more or less dismisses her. As soon as Emika leaves, Hana picks up her phone and makes a mysterious call. “Hey, are you up? Can you meet me in the playroom?” she says. With the slamming door sound we know too well, the end credits roll before we find out who’s on the other end and yet again, I’m yelling “Nooooo” at my screen. One thing’s for sure — whoever it is, they won’t be napping!

Hello from the other side: Hana makes a mysterious phone call after a tense moment with a roommate on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Hello from the other side: Hana makes a mysterious phone call after a tense moment with a roommate on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

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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