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A Romantic Monster?

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  • Tip Bones

I have to hand it to Toshiyuki, aka “Shacho,” he knows how to steal the spotlight.

He caught my attention with his beer bottle tricks and, following this episode, he has me examining each darkened hallway I encounter for lurking eavesdroppers. He even has actress Mei Nagano, who makes her third appearance as a guest panelist, hooked.

“I might be in love with him,” she confesses. Mei, I wouldn’t go that far, honey.

Just like he did in the previous episode, Toshiyuki patiently and oh-so-casually waits in the kitchen for Yume, and her exposed shoulders to show up. This time, it’s the first thing in the morning, and she’s about to race out the door to go to work. He convinces her to sit down for a quick cup of tea and beckons her out to lunch, considering both of their offices are in Shibuya. Yume says she’s all for it, before chugging her tea and scooting off to her office job.

Later that evening, while Vivi impatiently waits for a call from Ryo, Hana continues her earnest study into how romantic relationships develop by asking her roommates, “What makes you fall for someone? … What’s the turning point?”

Yume responds with a story about developing feelings for a friend after he planted a surprise kiss on her. Hana and Shion adorably act out the scenario and burst into giggles. However, the happy mood is interrupted by a call from Ryo, which Vivi rushes off to answer.

When she returns, Vivi announces that she’s decided to give up on Ryo. It’s still December in the world of “Terrace House” and the two had tentative plans to meet on Christmas Eve, perhaps the biggest date night on the Japanese calendar. To Vivi’s frustration, Ryo wriggles out of the plans, insisting that he’ll be too tired after his basketball game to meet. Also, he’s not keen to see Vivi while the cameras are rolling. He likes her, but not enough to commit to dating her, especially in front of the “Terrace House” audience. Although Vivi maturely accepts his decision, she still has a little cry in her bed.

So, Vivi looks like she’ll be having a blue Christmas, but what about our pink-haired romantic, Hana? While scrubbing the floors of the training gym, she shares with her fellow wrestlers, Hana tells her friend “Jungle Kyona” that she’s been hoping someone will confess their feelings for her, but despairs in the conclusion that “nothing will happen by Christmas.” While Hana says that she and Kai are like best friends, she also reveals that she has started mistaking long-haired men on the street for Kai. The panelists figure that it must mean he’s on her mind. Astute observation, gang.

Cut to Toshiyuki, who we see on back-to-back dates with Vivi, who mostly goes on about Ryo, and then with Yume again with the bare shoulders, who is excited about a proposed day out at Odaiba and a snowboarding trip to Hokkaido. I can’t tell if she’s just humoring him, but the panelists are delighted by the aggressive strides Toshiyuki is making, role-playing how he’s going to greet Yume’s father at the airport.

I’m incredibly relieved to report that Kai’s stand-up comedy is improving. It’s still not great, but at least it didn’t make me want to hit the mute button. Unlike his last open-mic night where he got roasted by the MC for the bombing, Kai gets through this episode’s set unscathed and even manages to win a few laughs from an audience that is kind of paying attention. He riffs on strawberries and the word “premium” — and it’s a way better set than his dark take on Japanese businessmen.

Finally, it’s time for some Christmas cheer! The house is in a merry mood with the roommates decorating a tree, and throwing a party. 

While Toshiyuki tries to get everyone on board with a card game, that somehow involves him blowing into Vivi’s ear, Shion plucks up the courage to ask Yume to the playroom. He tries to make plans for the two of them to cook dinner together, but unfortunately, Yume says she’s busy for the rest of the year. Also, little does Shion know that after he and Yume left the party, Toshiyuki stalked up the stairs to creepily linger by the playroom door, looking like a jilted lover. Yikes. And when Shion and Yume come out of the playroom, Toshiyuki is standing right there, like a monster stalking the hallway. Toshiyuki pulls Yume back into the playroom to firm up their road trip plans. Yume is much more receptive to going somewhere with him than she was with Shion, but even she is weirded out when Toshiyuki starts doing crunches out of the blue. Is he peacocking or is he just tipsy? Either way, I’m glad I’m not in Yume’s position.

But let’s end on a high note, shall we? Hana gets the Christmas present she was hoping for — someone confessing their feelings for her. Kai finally tells Hana point-blank that he likes her and, even though it takes her forever to respond articulately because she keeps covering her face and giggling, she manages to say that her feelings about them being “just friends” have changed — “in a good way,” she assures him. While Kai affectionately gazes at her, she tells him that he has beautiful eyes and recites a list of all the places she wants to go for dates. These two are so darn cute together, I can’t help but root for them.