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Fuji TV’s reality show Terrace House is one that follows 6 young people as they go through the highs and lows of life. Not really that compelling right? If you live in America or Europe this is old hat and you’ve seen this kind of show before.

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So what exactly is the big deal about this show? Well it features AKB48’s Kitahara Rie as one of the group of housemates. She was recommended by Akimoto Yasushi and she accepted the challenge of living with strangers.

Of course this put wota on alert because living under the same roof with the opposite sex while you are an idol isn’t cool. In a video message on AKB48’s YouTube channel Kitahara let all her fans know that she will be sleeping in her own room and there will be no shenanigans to be had.

I would like to point out that my point of view may be slightly skewed since I was using this program as part of my listening comprehension exercises and while I probably didn’t understand everything being said, I believe I caught enough to have a basic idea of what was going on.

Who is this woman?

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This woman is the one who recaps the episodes for the viewers at home. Apparently she’s a famous television personality but not once did I catch her name.  So apologies for that.  If you out there can give me her name it would be greatly appreciated just so I know for future reference.  She also happens to have the voice of a young girl, which given her age is rather shocking when you hear her speak.  But I guess that’s supposed to be a charm point.

You don’t really see much of her in this show except at the beginning of each episode where she’s in a random sponsor supplied vehicle driving around Japan at strange hours of the night talking about what these young people have done during their time in the house.

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Speaking of sponsorship. Get used to seeing Toyota’s all over the place. Terrace House, brought to you by Toyota. FUN TO DRIVE AGAIN.

I would also suggest getting used to this as well:

T-Swizzie’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is the theme song for Terrace House and you hear it quite frequently. It’s actually not a bad choice for a theme song to be honest. The soundtrack for this show is really good and showcases an eclectic mix of music from many global artists.

Anyway…. Back to our recap lady. Maybe it’s me but I don’ t think she has her notes on the iPad she’s holding during her segment.  I bet she has a game of Star Wars Angry Birds on pause and she’s just winging it.

Cast

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Pro surfer Masato Yukawa.  I don’t know much about pro surfing so whether this guy is a big name on the circuit is beyond me.  But he’s on Facebook and has his own website if you’re interested.

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Aspiring model Seina Shimabukuro.  I couldn’t find any concrete information on her other than that she participated in that Girls Day 2012 fashion show.

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Tetsuya Sugaya is they youngest person in the house and is studying to be a firefighter.  During these 13 episodes he works for a landscaping company.

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Momoko Takeuchi is… Uh… Well you know what? During the first run of this show I still have no idea what this woman does.  I have asked various people who have watched this program and they are stumped as well.  But word is she’s done a lot of stuff.  Yeah, I’m sure that is so detailed that your lingering questions are answered right?

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Shota Nakatsugawa is an artist and 4th year student(?) at a university if I’m reading the kanji for his title card properly.  He also happens to be the only one on this show who isn’t single.

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Lastly, probably the only reason anyone wanted to watch this show in the first place: Kitahara Rie.  Is there any need to ask what she does?

Is this worth watching?

As with many programs of this nature it starts off rather awkwardly with everyone just sitting around staring at each other until someone speaks up.  It didn’t feel like anyone was sizing the others up or that there was some sort of competition going on.  It was just 6 strangers staring blankly at each other for a little while.

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One of the early moments that I remember is when Kitahara first entered the house. It was then I found out that Momoko was the resident wota freaking out like a good idol fan should.  It was rather cute to see her lose her shit over the sight of Rie.

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It was funny to see Tetsuya’s reaction to Kitahara with this “who is this hot bitch?” look.

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For those who like  a lot of high tension, drama, screaming and fighting I think you should not watch this program. This is about as polite of a reality show that I have ever seen. In fact if it were not for the whole Tetsuya (a.k.a. Tecchan) and Kitahara showmance this was some fairly boring programming.

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To be fair, the whole deal between the surfer guy and the model also made for some interesting television.  You could tell those two were going to hook up at some point as they seemed to have a stronger connection than Testuya and Kitahara from the start.

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Then again, if you’re interested in seeing the daily lives of young Japanese people then this may suit your viewing needs.

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Don’t expect too much intrusion on these people’s routines though.  Throughout the series you see very little of Momoko and Shota’s lives outside of the house and a lot of what is covered revolves around the pairings of the other members in the house.

Does that mean that Shota and Momoko were boring?  Not necessarily, but perhaps their workplaces/schools would not allow filming so they were just kind of S.O.L. when it came to that part the program.

For AKB fans you are lucky enough to see some of what a hand shake event may look like if you’re planning to ever attend one or have never been to one.

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You also get to see something normally only known as an urban myth. IDOLS EATING!!! Yes, it’s true. They eat. Like real food. Not candy or confectioneries given to them in variety shows.

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The real driving force of Terrace House

So should you watch this show? Yes, but only because the central storyline of Tecchan and his pursuit of Kitarie is some rather compelling stuff. As I mentioned in the beginning of this piece, without that it’s rather blah viewing.  The producers of this show realized that early and the 13th episode of this program is dedicated to their showmance.

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Anyway, you really end up rooting for the dude as the 12 weeks of this program go on. It sure took him some time to get his game on but hey once he got going it was a ride similar to that of a decent drama.

The best parts of the early developments of their relationship is the porn grove music played in the background, particularly during the segment from the screen caps above.

Their first official “date” seemed to be a mission to go out and buy food.  Grocery shopping appears to be a shit kind of date to be honest but I guess the idea of what a date may be is different in Japan?

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Their second date was hanging out in Yokohama including going to an amusement park, eating, going to a massage parlor and just walking around.

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Their showmance reaches its climax where Kitahara tells Tecchan that she is leaving the house and he tries to make a move on her (shown to him by Momoko) which is promptly rejected.

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The look on Tetsuya’s face is says it all. “Man I just fucked… this.. up. What am I going to do now?”

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To be honest I really felt for the guy. All that hard work flushed down the toilet when Kitahara pulled her hand away. The poor guy. But all was not lost and during a conversation with Masato and Seina it’s revealed that he didn’t fuck up but surprised Kitahara with his bold move.

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And with that the hopes of not only Tecchan but those who were rooting for him were restored.  There is a running joke amongst my Twitter friends that we are on #teamtecchan4lyfe because he broke the glass ceiling.  I’m sure he wanted to break into more than that  but hey, baby steps.

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Also, Tecchan gives hope to us regular folks who think idols are unattainable.  Of course this showmance cannot continue given Kitahara’s occupation and after short conversation and a handshake Tecchan is left to let his heart rip apart in the kitchen.

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Terrace House has not ended

Okay these are spoilers so if you don’t want to be ruined on how the first 12 weeks and first week ended then perhaps you’ll want to stop reading now…  Still with me?  Okay so basically Masato left the house to train in California and Rie left because she’s in AKB48 and she can’t be giving in to carnal urges to ride the hose of a fireman trainee / landscaper.

As my fellow AKBro Yoshi (@yoshi_nsk) said on Twitter during a discussion about Rie/Tetsuya:

Fact of the matter is, she wants it HARD but she’s being a professional idol about it.

So you figure that would be end of this reality show right?  Nope.  Apparently after the tearful goodbyes it still soldiers on with Seina,  Momoko, Testuya and Shota in the house.  Thanks to one of my kind JPH!P brothers I was able to catch the latest episode and it seems that even without the stronger personalities such those of  who departed there may be something interesting to keep viewers around.

There is a new female room mate who is a gyaru model.  I didn’t catch her name but she’s got my attention.  Also, Shota is leaving the house to prepare for his upcoming marriage to his girlfriend leaving our hero, our Neo, our savior Tecchan in the house with 3 women for the time being.

Bring on the porn groove. You can do it Tecchan!

Whether I will be reviewing the next 11 weeks of this show is up in the air.  It depends on the availability of the show now that there is no idol on it.  So for now, these 12 episodes should suffice for your Japanese reality TV viewing.

Who knows?  Maybe this will pave the way for others to give this type of thing a  try.  But definitely give this show a look if you’re interested in what all the hype was about.