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Japanese reality TV shows: more addictive than sugar

In the last few years, Netflix has introduced us to Japanese reality TV. And we gobble. it. up. I grew up watching reality TV like The Real World and Jersey Shore (don't judge me). I still love these shows to be honest, I love drama. Unlike these shows, Japanese reality TV shows aren't all 'out there' in the drama department. The fights are way more subtle, the yelling and physicality is much less. So when it does occurs, it leaves audiences shocked. As desensitised as I have gotten to fights and yelling and hurling insults to one and another watching Western reality TV shows, I did not really expect this Japanese slow-paced-quiet-life to be this addictive. The quiet, soft, between the lines kind of conflict that was happening on my screen had me GLUED onto the screen. Let me walk you through some of the shows I have been binging and waiting for new seasons to come out, like a dog waiting for its owner to return home after a long, long day.

Terrace House

First of all, who doesn't know about Terrace House nowadays? The Japanese reality TV show similar to other Reality TV like Big Brother, The Real World, or Jersey Shore, an unscripted show where 6 strangers live together whom are carefully cherrypicked models or mixed so there are never ugly people in the house. Three women and three men where the women and men sleep separately in two different rooms and live in houses I could only dream of living in. So we basically just follow their lives, and they may or may not fall in love with each other.

Oh maaan, I wish I was young and pretty so I could join this show.

I started watching Terrace house from Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City, because this is the one that Netflix started showing. This stuff was like, what's going on. Is there even anything happening on my screen? And then quickly escalated to OH MY GOD did you see what -insert super subtle movement of someone- did? And how -insert very subtle and normal toned comment of the other person- reacted?? I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. Most people would go like, whut. There's nothing going on, they're just talking. But to some people who know the Japanese culture a bit better, some of these 'normal conversations' are full-blown conflicts. And when they DO have actual conflicts that are more obvious, shit has hit the fan and splattered on everyone in the room already. Enjoy that mental image.
If looks could kill.

Tears will flow: from people leaving the house kind of sadness to getting dumped.

I am such a fan-girl I even went to Karuizawa last April and took a picture in front of the house. 

Fangirling SO hard, I NEEDED to go to Sasa (Tsubasa's dad's soba place) and try the soba there! I even saw him work there.

 The interior was very (old-style) Japanese.

The soba was actually quite nice!

They just made me hungry man.. Every date you have, every bite you eat, I'll be watching you. Am I sounding creepy yet?

Currently I have just finished Part 1 of Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020. I wonder if the Olympics are going to be a big part of this next year! Will there be anyone that will compete in the Olympics joining the house? Won't they be too busy training? All these questions!

Ainori (Love Wagon)

Less well-known, Ainori (Love Wagon) is a dating show taking four guys and three girls on a trip in a van throughout the world. During this time they get to know each other and if they like someone they can get a 'ticket' from the Love Wagon driver to go home together. Then they confess to the person they like and ask if they want to go back to Japan together (and continue their relationship). The next day the person that was confessed to gives her/his answer and either continue on Ainori or go home together. This show started in 1999 and was already popular in Japan, it was even picked up in Vietnam with their own version! Some of the couples even got married and have kids now. Netflix took it internationally and we are glad they did!

The newer season started in South-East Asia and during season two we got all the way to Central Asia. This newer version of Ainori includes some colourful characters to say the least..

Depparin is a young lady from Fukuoka (shout out to Fukuoka where I studied!) with a very ... colourful character. She is not your standard nod and smile type of girl. She will state her opinion and fight you for it. This woman stole my heart in season 1. Whenever she gets angry, her Hakata dialect comes out in full force. I enjoyed this the most honestly, she made the drama but some of it was fair. You can feel how she challenges the stifling side of Japanese culture by calling the others out when they stick to the rules a bit too strictly. This straight forward woman who dropped out of school challenges the restrictive Japanese standards in this show.  


In season 2, it felt a bit like they were milking her enormous popularity.

Oh oh, Shyboy.. How I love you so. You are not shy at all, singing in front of a radio audience like that with your own songs. Doing what you like. You are the most adorable, sweetest virgin boy out there. And boy, DID they focus on him never having even kissed a girl before. I think they just chose him to be a funny character on the show. Who would have thought the audience would be rooting the hardest for this underdog, this man that follows his heart and stays true to his ideals even though so many people might have mocked him up until now.

Never scared of showing your emotions. You precious, precious man.

How they show which character is interested in whom. Depparin's arrows were always all over the place, this girl liked a guy within 10 seconds! And then changed her mind in the next 10 secs.

Some of the characters are very memorable on this show. Some are not memorable, but as time passes we get to know them better and they touch our hearts as well. I definitely had to wipe away a tear here and there, tears of sadness as well as pure joy.

 These two made me bawl my eyes out.

Oh man, the most tense confession in season 1 imho.

I love this show, and a new season is out now! Can't wait to binge Ainori: African Journey soon! I first need to wait for the whole season to come out. Patience, where art thou.. 

The Bachelor Japan

Pretty well known over the world, The Bachelor is about a group of women competing for one guy (usually rich or something). I never watched this show before, and I started with season 3 of the Japanese version. This bachelor is a 31 year old dentist who likes fancy cars and golf (talk about stereotypical rich men..). All these golddiggers women compete to be the one he proposes to in the end. This guy is serious, he has a specially made ring ready and everything, boi's not playing around.

I feel like the show is making fun of itself with this one though. It's really milking this rivalry between women and bitchiness thing.

These are the main Japanese reality shows I am addicted to now, any others I should watch? Leave your recommendations in the comments! Please do tho, I don't have a life. I need this as life-support, for real.

Studio commentators: ode to Yama-chan

What I really like about these Japanese reality shows is that they have commentators. Usually a panel of commentators consisting of singers, comedians, actors and etc (aka famous people) sit and discuss what's going on in each show. Usually they start with what happened last time, and then halfway through discuss what had happened up until then, and in the end somewhere another reaction moment. I love how we can have a breather to digest what has happened and to discuss what could happen. It's kind of anthropological research in a way.

 These are the core commentators except for the guy 2nd from the right. There is one young actor like him which changed up until now, but the last few seasons the actor stayed the same.

 Sometimes they even have guests.

The commentators from Ainori, which except for Becky has changed a lot as well. I didn't start African Journey, it hasn't come to SG yet but we watch it with VPN anyway so amirite?

The Bachelor Japan commentators: I like the lady on the right. She was a former AKB48 from what I heard (correct me if I'm wrong) but unlike the 'pristine' image of that group, this lady is haaarsh and we love it of course.

My favourite commentator of all, is Yama-chan from Terrace House. Ryota Yamasato is a comedian who gives the sharpest and funniest comebacks. I love how he has no filter, at all. He thrives off the chaos and drama. Like me! Every time I watch an episode with my friends, I make a comment about something that happens. And then during the commenting he says the EXACT SAME THING. Too bad he's already married, totes soulmate material heh. 

All in all, I love that we get a glimpse into these Japanese people's lives. It's a tad bit very voyeuristic, but hey, I don't have a life. And it is so, so entertaining. Well then, let's open up another bag of chips and the next episode is in 5... 4... 3... 2...1...

~Written by Devi~

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