Terrace House: The Definitive Ranking

Nick Kucera
Feb 10, 2017 · 13 min read

Terrace House is the future of reality television. And I mean that without a trace of irony. Netflix’s Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City is an adaptation of the popular Japanese reality series Terrace House. This adaptation stays true to its roots with an entirely Japanese-speaking cast of house members who live together in a modern, high-end house in Tokyo. Terrace House works so well because it does not attempt to force narratives onto its cast (like many American reality shows), but instead merely shows the natural tensions and relationships that develop from six young adults (3 boys and 3 girls at a time) living together. Perhaps the most entertainment is provided by the “panel,” a collection of Japanese comedians and celebrities who provide context and biting commentary to what’s happening in the house. However this is not about why Terrace House is the hottest thing in reality television, but rather who the best cast members are.

This ranking is based partly on likeability and who I would actually want to live in a house with, and partly on who provided the most entertainment on the show. Some preference was given to those house members who were on the show longer because I naturally came to know and like them more. Some spoilers ahead but none that will ruin the show.

Helpful timeline of how long each castmember was in the house

17. Momoka. Age 20. Nickname: Momo-chan Occupation: Ballerina

Momo-chan meant well and was super nice to everyone in the house. But ultimately she had a pretty bland personality, was rarely in the house due to her riguruous ballet schedule, and left the house after not too long.

But props to her for becoming a professional ballerina.

16. Makoto. Age 22. Nickname: Makocchan. Occupation: College Baseball Player

Makocchan had potential. After he first came into the house he seemed like a real dude who just wanted to drink and occasionally play baseball, while searching for love. But he showed his true colors when he pulled some sus shit by talking behind another of the guy’s backs and then sending very mixed signals to one of the girls. This pretty much alienated him from the rest of the house and he wisely became the first one to leave.

Bye Makocchan, I hope to see you in the MLB one day.

15. Yuriko. Age 23. Nickname: Yuri. Occupation: Medical Student.

For some reason I had a lot of difficulty remembering her name which may have led to this low ranking.

Positives: Was nice to everyone and seemed like she’d be easy to get along with.

Negatives: Totally led a guy on while he took her on expensive dates. If this was done on purpose it may have raised her ranking because I would appreciate the evil genius, but I think she was just naïve.

Best Moment: An ill-fated attempt to get back together with her sweater-wearing, co-medical student ex-boyfriend.

14.Arisa. Age 25. Nickname: Arisa Occupation: Hat Designer

We’ve already gotten to point where I feel bad for ranking them this low which shows how great this show really is. This ranking is no doubt influenced by her rejection of my favorite cast member and the fact she was too busy making dope hats to be in the house. But she was an overall cool person and had one of the better careers on the show. Like a solid role player on a championship team, think Shaun Livingston on the Warriors, Arisa contributed to the show’s greatness but was not the main attraction.

13. Mizuki. Age 22. Nickname: Mizuki Occupation: Barista/Office Worker

A truly tragic figure on par with Shakespeare’s best. Except instead of dying in an act of suicidal love; her relationships just didn’t really go anywhere. One of the harder working house members, Mizuki may have simply not had the time to pursue love. However she did establish herself as a strong maternal figure for the other girls in the house and as one of the original house members she will always be remembered.

Motto: Don’t let anyone tell you your dream doesn’t make sense.

12. Hayato. Age 29. Nickname: Hayato-San Occupation: Chef

As the oldest cast member Hayato always seemed vaguely out of place. I was also very unclear about his personality as he had moments where he would break down crying, sit sullenly in silence, and just stare with his intense-ass eyes. However he basically becomes the personal chef cooks for the entire house, upping his value in any Most Valuable Housemate conversation. Hayato’s arc is really defined by the last few episodes where he appears in the middle of some intense drama, which unfortunately brings out his creepiest side.

As Drake once said: Chef Hayato with the pot boy.

11. Natsumi. Age 26. Nickname: Nacchan Occupation: Model

Although coming in the middle of the ranks, Nacchan may be the one I would least like to live with. She literally couldn’t perceive how her diss-track level shots at her roommates hurt their feelings. Paradoxically she may have also been the most sensitive one in the house to any perceived slight. But this borderline sociopathic behavior did make for great television. Her split personalities of good friend and vicious destroyer of worlds was a continuous theme brought up by the panel and would make for a great anime spin-off.

After becoming unable to contain her inner rage anymore Nacchan left the house to transform into her Japanese she-hulk form.

10. Hikaru. Age 18. Nickname: Hikaru Occupation: Model

Of all the professional models that lived in Terrace House, Hikaru looked the most like one. When asked why she was pursuing him one of the girls replied “I like his face.” When he was working his side job as a construction worker, it looked like he was doing a photo shoot in a construction worker costume. That’s really all you need to know. Outside of his looks Hikaru was a pretty stoic, mature guy for eighteen years old and was good friends with the guys in the house. Although he could be fairly blunt at times I never felt like he was purposely trying to hurt anyone. Hikaru left the house too soon, but contributed some good moments before he left. Another role player, but more like a JR Smith than a Shaun Livingston.

9. Masako. Age 23. Nickname: Martha Occupation: Model

Due to her short time on the show some HATERS may say that she doesn’t deserve this spot. But I’m here to tell you that Martha was hands-down the coolest girl to appear on the show and immediately fit perfectly into the house dynamics. She also has a relationship that will inspire love for ages to come, but I don’t want to spoil that too much.

Most importantly the way Martha helps contribute to the show’s perfect ending cements her in this position. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

8. Yuki Adachi. Age 27. Nickname: Tap Occupation: Tap Dancer

You see that? Dude’s nickname is the same as his occupation. That’s how you know he was legit. Tap has two of the best early moments on the show. During basically their first dinner in the house he makes Mizuki cry by telling her that her dream to own a cafe is lame. However he redeems himself by bringing everyone to his tap dancing show and just tearing up the stage. The global tap dancing renaissance is imminent and this man will lead it. After a rocky start he establishes himself as a good roommate and has an entertaining, ill-fated series of dates.

7. Yuki Brynes. Age 23. Nickname: Brynes Occupation: Hip-Hop Dancer

6. Misaki Tamori. Age 23. Nickname: Tamo-san Occupation: Entertainer

These two are paired together because of their almost immediate romantic connection. Both were similarly loose, fun-loving, and spacy. They also never seemed to r have a fight that wasn’t resolved right away.

Yuki was a “krumper” whose major goal was to dance in a Chris Brown video. Even Yuki would respect that dream. His other mission was to get his driver license and take Misaki out on a date in the car. This was his main narrative arc and it paid off in a big way. He definitely ranks very high on the list of roommates I would personally get along with.

Misaki entered the house close to the middle of the show and while not very mature established herself as one of the more fun people in the house. The fact that her first romance ended in rejection also helped her gain sympathy points.

Ultimately both of these members were defined and strengthened by their connection with one another. This also applies to the next two on the list.

5. Tatsuya Uchihara. Age 23 Nickname: Uchi Occupation: Hair Stylist

4. Minori Nakada. Age 21. Nickname: Minori. Occupation: Model

Two OG’s of the house and the greatest “will they or won’t they” relationship ever portrayed on television. Uchi was a master hair stylist who was charmingly awkward when it came to women, shown by his inability to make a definitive move on Minori. Minori is a fairly quiet, rising star model who had an endearing habit of hiding her face whenever she was in an uncomfortable situation. These two awkward soul’s had an up-down relationship defined by a couple, very entertaining events.

I. The Message in the Rice

Ucchi’s failure to kiss Minori prompts her to create a culinary subtweet by writing “coward” on a dish of omurice. To prove he’s not a coward Ucchi makes some hilariously awkward attempts to kiss her. This chapter ends with the two finally dating.

II. The Meat Incident

Ucchi obtains a very rare, expensive cut of steak from one of his clients. But while he’s gone Minori and the other roommates eat it without him. Ucchi gets understandably pissed at this, but instead of forgiving anyone he sulks in his room without talking to anyone. This crisis is finally resolved hostage negotiator style by Minori’s older sister (who would have ranked high on this list if she counted as a roommate).

The drama these two created among themselves as well as their friendships with the other roommates created some of best entertainment on the show. The house was truly a different place when these two departed.

3. Riko Nagai. Age 18. Nickname: Rikopin. Occupation: Model

We are first introduced to Riko as she leaves her Mom’s house to come live with the Terrace House crew. Her obvious inexperience with boys and life on her own made Riko an immediately endearing character. Decked out in Hello Kitty apparell and her infamous bunny slippers Riko’s swag was unparalleled. Although initially quiet, Riko speaks up to defend herself and her roommates and develops a nice sisterly connection with Misaki.

Great things about Riko:

1. The look of dawning horror on her face when drama was unfolding in the house

2. The aforementioned bunny slippers that we watch her buy and then proceed to wear all the time

3. Her mom randomly visiting the house and flirting with the guys

4. The way she wore cups of noodles around her neck at the cup noodle museum

Riko is also involved in the insane drama that unfolds at the end of the show and comes out of it an even stronger character. Riko was one of the most fun characters to root for and it was fun to watch her develop from a timid girl into a woman taking charge.

2. Yuto Handa. Age 27. Nickname: Hansan Occupation: Architect

Although Hansan was his most common nickname the panel also liked to call him Mr. Perfect. Hansan is unique in that he was the only cast member who came into the house already in a relationship. So you might ask why did he come onto the show at all then? The answer is to drop constant wisdom bombs and improve the lives of everyone else in the house.

Hansan is a really talented, hardworking architect who spent most of his time in the house on his Mac working on designing cafes and building facilities for the physically disabled. When he wasn’t doing this he was providing sage wisdom to his roommates and resolving conflicts that arose in the house. Without his calming presence the house probably would have torn itself to pieces.

And he has people making memes about him already

Did I mention that he also has a dope second apartment and studio where he goes to build and design stuff? Hansan could have dated all three of the women in Terrace House at the same time if he wasn’t so loyal to his girlfriend. Man, what a great guy.

Hansan’s exit is one of the most emotional moments of the show and everyone, including the panel, ends up crying. There is a noticeable hole in leadership left after Hansan’s departure kinda like when Gandalf dies in the Fellowship of the Ring. Now I think about it Gandalf really is the perfect analogy for Hansan.

1. Arman Bitaraf. Age 24. Nickname: Arman Occupation: Aspiring Firefighter

Finally we come to the legend himself. Arman stepped into the house in episode eleven and stayed until the end, meaning he was on the show much longer than anyone else. In this way Arman was the constant that the audience could latch on to. You could usually find him chillin in the living room or drinking with the guys in the house.

Arman comes to Tokyo from Hawaii making him the only member not from Japan. The cultural difference is apparent right away as Arman is much more straightforward and aggressive in his pursuit of the girls. However his relationship with Arisa, which seems to be going well at first, ends in heartbreak. After this Arman doesn’t go out any more dates until near the end of the show. Personality-wise Arman is fairly stoic but will occasionally have moments of goofiness that make him very relatable.

Arman comes onto the show saying that his dream is to become a firefighter but he literally never takes steps to pursue this career while on the show. But I don’t blame him because who wouldn’t want to go live in a dope house in Tokyo for free? Arman realizes he’s got it made and takes full advantage by never leaving the show. I don’t mean to call him lazy because he stays active by doing kickboxing for a bit and then working for a landscaping company.

Arman had so many great moments on the show that I’ll just list a few of the best

· When Riko first comes into the house she’s seems really intimidated by Arman (possibly because of his tattoos). After noticing this Arman responds by asking her out on a beach date (which unfortunately never happens.)

· Hansan gives some of his best advice to Arman: “I don’t think you’re meant to be a firefighter. I think you’re just meant to be happy.” Like damn that’ll make you reevaluate your whole life.

· After Arman’s good friend Hikaru announces that he’s leaving the house Arman is noticeably upset. They have a touching conversation before he departs. Arman’s got a soft side deep down.

· Arman gets the most use out of the Terrace House pool and one of his funniest moments is showing off his top-notch dogpaddling skills.

· He almost dies. Arman gets hit by a car while skateboarding and ends up in the hospital. A legitimately scary moment but one that works out for Arman because it results in his relationship.

· He gets absolutely wasted one night and seemingly forgets that he has a date at an amusement park planned for the next morning. So we get to see Arman with an awful hangover trying to make the most out of this date in between trips to the bathroom to go throw up.

Arman clearly provided a ton of entertainment on this show and I would totally live with this dude. He’s chill at home, parties hard, and would make a great wingman. Now we just have to hope for a spinoff where Arman trains to fight fires in Hawaii or stays in Japan as a professional kick boxer. For now we’ll just have to content ourselves with his Instagram.

Nick Kucera

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I write about the NBA and sometimes about Japanese reality shows.