Terrace House: Opening New Doors, Part 1 review

“Terrace House: Opening New Doors” (“TH:OND”) is the latest season of the “Terrace House” Japanese reality show. Six young Japanese-speaking strangers are housed together in the hope of generating heterosexual love and relationship drama. The reality scenes are intercut with a Commentary Panel made up of six Japanese celebrities.

“TH:OND” takes place in the ski resort town of Karuizawa, and the first eight episodes (Part 1) feature the following cast (left to right in the top image):

Shion, 22 year old model
Tsubasa, 24 year old ice hockey player
Taka, 31 year old professional snowboarder
Ami, 20 year old university student and aspiring model
Mizuki, 26 year old freelance writer and Korean interpreter
Yuudai, 19 year old culinary school dropout

Hyedie, a friend of Noonas Over Forks and an avid fan of “Terrace House”, joins in on a review of “TH:OND” Part 1.

Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Thanks a lot for helping us review Part 1 of “TH:OND”. With your fluency in Japanese, I hope you can reveal the cultural nuances that those of us who rely on the subtitles, may miss.

Hyedie ハイディーちゃん: I’m happy to chat with other “Terrace House” fans whenever I can! And yes, while the English translation is great, sometimes (probably due to space and time limitations) they are simplified.

Junggugeo Kaenada: The addition of “Opening New Doors” to the title would seem to indicate something different this time around. Do you feel that anything has changed with this latest edition of “Terrace House”?

Hyedie: To be honest, not really! I assumed that the “Opening New Doors” was a bit of Jap-lish happening; maybe it just sounded cool and was grammatically correct? Do you feel like anything changed with this new season?

Junggugeo Kaenada: Well, I thought a cold weather location might offer less skin shots than previous seasons. Then, the production team kindly provided a hot tub, and the male cast members decided to jump in nude. So, that was different.

Hyedie: Indeed! Well, we do know that Taka-san has a penchant for nudity, since he did share the video of himself boarding in the nude with his housemates.

Junggugeo Kaenada: Speaking of Taka, he is the ripe, old age of 31, which I believe makes him the oldest cast member to date.

Hyedie: That’s true! I think Taishi (aka Guilty Samurai from “Terrace House: Aloha State”) was previously the oldest cast member, when he celebrated his 30th birthday on screen.

Junggugeo Kaenada: I worried that despite his advanced age, Taka would be immature, being a professional snowboarder and all. So far, dirty 1970s mustache aside, Taka has been a calming presence in the house.

Hyedie: Oh man, there is such a handsome face hiding behind that facial hair! Commentary Panelist, Yamachan called Taka the Asian Freddie Mercury! I also like that Taka has a weekly radio show with his brother and he runs his own clothing brand. He seems like a modern day Renaissance Man.

Junggugeo Kaenada: Regardless of Taka’s presence, the focus of much of Part 1 has been on the two youngest cast members, Ami and Yuudai. I have never seen the level of adolescent drama on “Terrace House” that Ami and Yuudai brought. They were spectacularly immature.

Hyedie: Yes, their interactions and conversations were so entertaining. While the Panel commented on how crass Ami is, I found her bluntness to be hilarious and refreshing. Yet, despite her ability to be so frank, she could never really say ‘no’ to things. I found it strange that she agreed to go on the date with Yuudai, even when she bluntly rated the prospect of going to an athletic obstacle course a dismal ‘1’! What did you think of Ami’s interactions with her friends?

Junggugeo Kaenada: The thing is, I could picture myself making the same bitchy comments about my new housemates that Ami shared with her friends, though maybe not in front of a camera as she does. So, were the Commentary Panel aghast at Ami’s rudeness or shocked that she would speak so bluntly while being filmed?

Hyedie: I think they were just as entertained as we were. Although, reading through some Reddit threads, it looks like the translators toned down some of Ami’s crass comments.

“Things like lights, fireworks and fall leaves… I honestly have no interest in those.”

When Ami said this, I would have translated it as: “Things like lights, fireworks and fall leaves … I don’t give two shits about those things.” because she actually used the word くそ (shit)!!

Junggugeo Kaenada: Wow! I feel like the translator who did the subtitles did me a great disservice.

Going back to your observation about Ami giving mixed messages to Yuudai, I put it down to immaturity. She really didn’t know what she wanted in a date, just as she had no idea whether she wanted to search for a job or pursue a modeling career. Ami’s immaturity is more forgivable than Yuudai’s. He was an epic slacker and shamelessly self-centered.

Hyedie: Yes, while Ami may not know what she wants to do with her life, she doesn’t try to create a fake persona to make herself look good. Yuudai is so wrapped up in cultivating what he thinks is a cool image that he will say whatever makes him look amazing in any given situation. He inhabits all the worst personality traits that you can think of – but it does make for entertaining television!

Junggugeo Kaenada: I became annoyed that I was forced to suffer a dumb teenager in Yuudai. I watch “Terrace House” for the drama between 20-somethings. I’m not into housemates having to repeatedly remind Yuudai to do the dishes or be more considerate of other people’s feelings. Though, I will admit that the Commentary Panel’s ragging on Yuudai’s unique style of crying and their fear that non-Japanese viewers would mistakenly believe that Japanese hid their tears behind chopstick fingers, made me laugh until I cried.

Hyedie: YES! The Commentary Panel are doing a top notch job this season. “JAPANESE CHOPPU SUTIKKU CRY. Whyyyyy Japanese people??”

Junggugeo Kaenada: They tried to balance out the trainwreck of Ami and Yuudai with a sweet blossoming romance between tomboy, Tsubasa and hāfu, Shion. Did their relationship do anything for you?

Hyedie: I really love watching those two! I find myself cheering for them. But, do I feel so excited and happy about Tsu-chan and Shion because Yuudai and Ami make average people seem extra genuine and super nice?

Junggugeo Kaenada: Tsubasa and Shion are very likeable, but they do feel like a peace offering from the production team for forcing viewers to suffer through Ami and Yuudai.

We have yet to touch on Mizuki. Frankly, she didn’t have much of a screen presence for me until her ex-boyfriend contacted her and she descended into a hot mess. This was in spite of her tantalizing announcement that her dream is to create her own lingerie line.

Hyedie: I actually loved how Mizuki directly called Yuudai out for being a spoiled hypocrite (even though the editors of the show tried to blame it on her being drunk with a shot of all the empties in the sink). I find that because the other housemates are super nice, they gently suggest things to Yuudai, whereas Mizuki called him out on everything.

Ami said it first, though. Mizuki and her two week boyfriend are never going to be happy.

Junggugeo Kaenada: Haha, right, Mizuki loved him even though they only went out for two weeks. She is making such a blatantly piss poor decision in reuniting with her ex that I got a little bored with her booty call, when it should have been outrageous. Do you think the Commentary Panel were scandalized by Mizuki sleeping with her ex, or were they as bored as me?

Hyedie: No, they seemed really impressed at how smooth it was! He comes from Korea, they meet for dinner and at the second restaurant, she proclaims that she’s ‘sleepy’. Touki-san did say that Mizuki’s ex is her セフレ (sé-fu-ré) which is short for ‘sex friend’!

Junggugeo Kaenada: I was disappointed that Part 1 was a mere eight episodes long. Part 2 is already airing in Japan, but has yet to be released on Netflix. Do you have any predictions for Part 2?

Hyedie: While we’re still on the topic of Mizuki and her sé-fu-ré, my prediction is that she will be leaving “TH:OND” in Part 2 to reunite with her ex in Korea. Which is too bad; I really liked her. That being said, aside from Yuudai, I really like the whole cast this season – even Ami!

What are your predictions?

Junggugeo Kaenada: Yes, sadly, I think Mizuki will leave before we get to see her model any of her lingerie line. I also think Yuudai’s days are numbered, because he is buckling under the unfamiliar sensation of being parented by the rest of his housemates. Speaking of which, did you find Yuudai’s interactions with his mother unusual? They seemed cold towards each other.

Hyedie: I felt like his mom is just fed up and exasperated by her son. I’m not sure how they translated it, but she kept on referring to him as ‘お前’(omae) which is a term usually used when you look down on someone. Maybe it’s a term of endearment for them, but parents usually add a ‘san’ to become ‘お前さん’ which she didn’t do. But, I agree with you, their relationship did seem strange.

Junggugeo Kaenada: Since they have steered 31 year old Taka away from an icky relationship with 20 year old Ami, let’s hope he finds love with a new housemate.

Hyedie: Do you think they have? I feel like something might happen!!

Junggugeo Kaenada: Oh, that could be juicy. Stay tuned for Part 2!


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