TV | 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020' Recaps

Ep. 31 'Publicity Stunt'

by Tom Hanaway and Alyssa I. Smith

Staff Writers

After weeks of eavesdropping, listening to second-hand accounts of conversations and dropping very obvious signals, Hana and Vivi finally come face to face with some harsh truths about their respective crushes on Ryo. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be a happy ending for either one of them.

Ryo comes home with a black eye, presumably from basketball practice, but that isn’t the only pummeling he is getting. He’s been trying to bob and weave through Hana and Vivi’s flirtatious advances for weeks and the girls are finally getting fed up with his indecision. Ryo tries to act like everything is fine by bringing up the idea of a group dinner or party, but Vivi keeps flirting with him, offering to kiss his black eye to make him feel better. “That would heal it in a blink,” she giggles. Ryo simply buries his face into his hands.

The “Terrace House” panel is absolutely stupefied by Ryo’s behavior. At first he seemed to be interested in Vivi, not Hana, but now he doesn’t seem like either of them?

The special guest in the studio this week, actor Eiichiro Funakoshi, offers up some expert sleuthing in order to help us understand Ryo better. Funakoshi brings up how he is fairly certain he saw Ryo with a hickey in a previous episode, so it’s possible he’s dating someone on the side. It would explain why he’s being so evasive with Vivi and Hana.

Back in their shared room, the three ladies wonder aloud who Ryo might like. “He has to make a decision,” declares Vivi. Hana, on the other hand, is afraid of the truth. Either he continues to put off her advances, or she bluntly tells him how she feels and gets rejected. “There’s no happy ending,” Hana says as she begins to cry.

She decides on the latter approach during a casual meal with Ryo in the kitchen. She asks him if there’s anyone he’s been interested in lately, quickly following up her inquiry with another about his favorite vegetable. Ryo purses his lips and replies with “okra.” OK, veggies aside, does he have a favorite woman? Ryo states that he doesn’t have any special feelings for anyone in the house. He chooses his words carefully but the bottom line is that they’ve all been friend-zoned.

Without missing a beat, in comes Vivi, ready to get her flirt on. She invites Ryo to watch a romantic movie she discovered on Netflix and it’s a repeat of the scenario from the previous episode: Vivi, Ryo, a couch and a laptop. Before they get to Netflix and chill, however, Vivi wants some truth.

“To put it plainly,” she says, “it’s pretty obvious that I’m into you.” But she’s been having a hard time figuring out if that feeling is mutual. Ryo is vague at first, but eventually concedes that he thinks she’s beautiful and they share similar values. What’s holding him back is a worry that Vivi might move to America someday to pursue her Hollywood dream, forcing them into a long-distance relationship. She replies that, yes, there is a chance she might go to the U.S., but who knows what the future holds? Perhaps she will find a job in Japan?

Ryo suddenly seems agitated by her answer, saying it’s too late and that she’s being zurui (unfair). Their mutual frustration mounts until finally Vivi says, “I don’t have the courage to end this, so I need you to decide.” Even then, Ryo refuses to give her a clear answer.

Hell hath no fury like a woman ignored.

Vivi gives a full report back in the girl’s room, and Hana and Emika are beyond annoyed. They let loose with their real thoughts about Ryo — he’s not authentic and he’s not actually interested in finding love. They all come to the conclusion that he simply joined “Terrace House” for the free publicity. He complains about how dirty the house is but doesn’t do any cleaning, and flirts with the girls but doesn’t commit to any of them. While Ryo may have joined the show to boost his image, the girls are in agreement that his reputation is tanking.

Triple trouble: Hana (left), Vivi (center) and Emika (right) question roommate Ryo's intentions for moving into the house on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Triple trouble: Hana (left), Vivi (center) and Emika (right) question roommate Ryo’s intentions for moving into the house on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

Another roommate who’s in need of some work on his reputation is Kai. The roommates notice that he has been hiding out in the playroom lately and wonder what’s going on with him. Hana goes upstairs to check on him and finds out he has a fever, but it’s also likely that he needs time alone to lick his wounds after bombing at his stand-up comedy night. He keeps working on his act, though, writing new material and practicing diligently. Kai is not going to give up so easily.

Still, it’s a good time for another Vivi pep talk. She interrupts Kai in the middle of a writing session to offer him some sweet potato and a healthy dose of constructive criticism. She tells him that he should talk more about his own experiences, to which Kai responds that one question he thinks about a lot is “Why am I alive?” Vivi has zero patience for this level of darkness. She calls him out for isolating himself from the roommates, even though he says that he joined “Terrace House” to meet new people and make life-long friends. She recognizes that he’s introverted but she rarely sees him express who he is and that shows in his comedy. Vivi is on a tear with the “truth” this week.

Real talk: Vivi gives roommate Kai some constructive feedback about his stand-up comedy on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Real talk: Vivi gives roommate Kai some constructive feedback about his stand-up comedy on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

On a more positive note, Emika and Tupas are cruising nicely toward couplehood, sharing a bottle of Coca Cola and listening to Christmas songs together on the couch. Vivi squeals at them, “You two are in a bubble of happiness,” and while there’s nothing particularly exciting to see with this particular couple, at least it gives us a breather from doomed love triangles. Judging by the title for the next episode — “I Hate You” — we’re in for a rough ride.

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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