It looks like romance is in the air for the “Terrace House” housemates, and just in time for the new year! A few of them, including Yume and Shion, already have some dinner plans, but Toshiyuki Niino isn’t wasting any time and squeezes in one last date with Yume before 2019 ends.

Toshiyuki has gained his own personal cheering squad with Yama-chan dubbing all the female panelists “The Niini Girls.” It seems none of them were completely turned off by Toshiyuki’s bizarre behavior in the previous episode — when he trapped Yume in the playroom to ask her out and drunkenly perform sit-ups in front of her. The Niini Girls found it endearing (personally, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing).

And he doesn’t disappoint. Toshiyuki picks up Yume in Shibuya for a night drive (in a pink car? Nothing about this guy is subtle) over the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, a waterfront area that sits next to Tokyo Bay. Yume says she doesn’t go to Odaiba often, and Toshiyuki casually replies with, “I got your Rainbow Bridge virginity.” Yume, who has been a good sport about his aggressively direct style, just smiles while admiring the multi-colored bridge.

Next, Toshiyuki drives them back toward Harajuku in the city center, where he gives Yume a seemingly innocent present — luxury lip balm — before things become truly cringeworthy as he smears the gloss on and around her lips. Yume squeals that he is messing up her face. Then, with a move we saw coming a mile away, he assures her he will wipe some away. At first he uses his fingers, but then he dives in for a kiss. Again, Yume doesn’t overreact to Toshiyuki’s assertiveness and simply says she’s surprised. She even asks for a couple’s selfie before they depart as if nothing has happened.

Back in the studio, the panel sits in stunned silence as the Niini Girls are having second thoughts about their new club. “I am scandalized here,” You says. All the commentators agree that Toshiyuki’s Christmas present was painfully premeditated and that he needs to slow down.

The girls in the house are just as dumbfounded by the kiss. When Yume recounts her slippery date, Hana and Vivi aren’t sure if they should clap or scream. “I simply don’t know how to react,” Vivi says. Yume delivers a short summary of the moisturized smooch by saying, “It was surprising. I didn’t hate it. But I didn’t fall for him, either.”

Unlike Yume and Toshiyuki’s cringey courtship, everything else is moving along nicely. When asked by her roomies if she’s interested in Kai, Hana gives a “triple yes” as her answer. She’s even imagining what it would be like to kiss him. Before they get to that stage, though, the pair engage in a different kind of intimate activity. Wanting to shake off his past on-stage bombing and metaphorically get rid of his stage fright, Kai decides to cut off his long locks and go for a shaved head instead. Hana helps out with the razor and, after shedding his signature ponytail, Kai seems pleased with his new look. This moment between Hana and Kai feels much more natural than the lip balm incident.

A good buzz: Kai admires his freshly cut hair on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
A good buzz: Kai admires his freshly cut hair on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

But there seems to be another couple rising in the ranks — Vivi and Shion are becoming fairly chummy. Vivi, officially done with Ryo, seems like she may be ready for love as she chats with Shion about feeling comfortable around him, all while they clean the windows during a traditional ōsōji new year cleaning. Later, they give each other modeling tips, snap photos and gently touch each other to adjust their arms and shoulders to get the right pose.

All this love in the air gives Kai and Toshiyuki a great idea: a double date. The boys agree to take their ladies to an aquarium and maybe even stay somewhere for a night. Shion quietly looks on, not wanting to become a fifth wheel. When Vivi mentions she’d be up for joining, they all agree it should become a triple date instead. But that’s when nailing down the details becomes messy.

Hana pulls Kai aside in a very giggly and nervous manner, similar to when she was talking to Ryo. It looks like Hana has fallen hard for Kai, especially because she tells him that she wants to spend time with him alone, not just on a group date. Kai reassures her that they will have plenty of chances to be alone together.

“We’ll play some type of game, we’ll have a blast, and after that … I don’t know what’ll happen,” Kai says before they both burst into nervous laughter.

As for Toshiyuki and Yume, the details about sleeping arrangements aren’t clear. Toshiyuki says he found townhouses in Kyoto they can rent for the group date and keeps emphasizing how they will all be staying for the night — this isn’t a day trip. Again, Yume just goes with the flow and says she’s up for whatever.

Finally, “Terrace House” focuses on one of the show’s main delights: food.

While planning their trip, Toshiyuki starts spoon-feeding Yume pieces of kiwi. His fixation with her lips continues, from the beer bottle to the lip balm to this. Yume, blink twice if you need rescuing.

Kai makes gapao rice for Hana so they can share a lovely dinner together at home. They playfully argue over who should do the dishes and, before running off to bed, Hana lingers for a bit before asking Kai for a good-night hug. Their relationship seems to be proceeding at a much more tolerable pace.

Cooking up a storm: Shion makes Yume dinner ahead of their triple date on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Cooking up a storm: Shion makes dinner for Yume ahead of their triple date on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

The cooking scenes don’t end there, however. Making good on a promise from the previous episode, Shion and Yume make nikujaga (simmered meat and potatoes). Seeing as how Toshiyuki is going full speed ahead after Yume’s heart, Shion knows he needs to catch up quickly if he wants to stand a chance. He tells her over dinner that she gave the best impression out of all of the girls when he moved in, but then Yume confesses that Toshiyuki stood out the most to her. But that doesn’t mean Shion is giving up.

They bring up her lip balm kiss and joke about how awkward it was. Perhaps Shion can show her a better time?

“I’ll come up with the best date plan of my 22-year-old life,” Shion says.

Will he whisk Yume off her feet? Is he going to inadvertently ruin the upcoming triple date? Let’s see what he cooks up.

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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