Unlike many other reality TV shows, Terrace House makes no attempt to manufacture conflict. Instead it places three Japanese men and three Japanese women into a house and allows them to live their lives, with viewers watching how interpersonal relationships develop.
While conflict isn’t a driving force behind the show, romance is. Many of the housemates are single and looking for love. In A Fairy on a Split Road, a potential romance culminates in the most heartwarming way. On the one side there’s Tsubasa, a tomboyish hockey player who is charming, funny, and driven. On the other, there’s Shion, a classically handsome model–the kind of person you know would be very lucky in love.
The two form a bond, but romance isn’t immediately apparent. Perhaps by design, thanks to editing, the pair seem to straddle the line between friends and lovers. At the heart of that uncertainty are preconceptions about Shion, who announced that he wants to be loved and adored by Terrace House viewers when he first joined. The fact that he was sidling up to Tsubasa, undoubtedly a fan favorite, made him suspicious, as it would be a surefire way to curry favor. In A Fairy on a Split road, however, Shion reveals his feelings to Tsubasa. She’s fresh off a crushing defeat that would have pushed her hockey career forward, so emotions are high. Alone in a room, sat on the floor, Tsubasa reciprocates and the two share an awkward confession, gingerly lowering their barriers to bare their hearts in a way that is disarmingly heartfelt.
“If it’s really me that you want, I’ll be your girlfriend,” Tsubasa says, her politeness belying the fact that she is clearly a wonderful, kindhearted person. “Are you sure it’s me you want?” she adds, surprised by Shion’s confession. “You really have to ask that?” Shion says back to her, showing the audience that he sees what makes her special, just as they do.
Reality TV romances rarely have played out in such a natural, honest way. Fairy on a Split Road is a reminder that Terrace House is the most wholesome reality TV show around, and it’s moments like this that prove it’s one of the best feel-good viewing experiences you can have. — Tamoor Hussain