DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor or a mental health professional. Everything I am about to spout is strictly based off of my own life experiences and observations.
Quarantine isolation has brought on a slew of new watching habits and, as a result, my wife and I discovered Terrace House on Netflix. It is, for lack of a better term, “relaxing” reality TV. It’s not intense or in your face; it’s just methodic, almost slow, but strangely engaging to watch six people (three men/three women) all living together under the same roof working towards personal goals and – as the saying goes – living their best life. As an American who works heavily with Japanese pop culture, it’s a window to watching the social differences between Eastern and Western interactions so I was immediately hooked.
There are five series to date: Boys x Girls Next Door, Boys & Girls in the City, Aloha State, Opening New Doors, and Tokyo 2019-2020. The first series (Boys × Girls Next Door) isn’t available on Netflix in the United States, so we started with Boys & Girls in the City and loved it. We enjoyed Aloha State more than most people, but mainly because we enjoyed the location (Hawaii) due to recently visiting there in 2019.
We are now up to Opening New Doors. The show is more on par with Boys & Girls in the City with its pacing and narrative. One character in particular has started to stick out, though: Yuudai Arai. He is annoying. However, the more and more we watched him, the more I recognized a number of his physical queues and emotional reactions from working in fan conventions. I have begun to believe Yuudai exhibits autistic behavior and is on the spectrum.
In Japan, however, mental health has never really been a focus when it comes to self care based on my experience and observations. Once the idea that Yuudai could be autistic came to light, it’s been a little harder to watch this season. His housemates and even his mother all seem to be pushing him to succeed because, to them, he comes off as lazy and unmotivated, but no one is addressing why he’s that way. From a Western mindset, it makes it all a little uncomfortable to spectate. As of this post, we’re still watching Opening New Doors and are still in the first half of the series so I don’t know what eventually becomes of him.
Which leads to today.
A friend of mine posted on his Facebook that an international wrestler had died, presumably from suicide. Now, I’m not into wrestling, but the name seemed familiar, and it only took a few moments to realize: she’s on the current series (Tokyo 2019-2020) of Terrance House I haven’t gotten to yet.
Hana Kimura, based on what I’ve read, was harassed online after appearing on Terrace House almost incessantly. Watching Twitter this morning, wrestling fans are slowly shifting from blaming their fandom’s trolls to those from Terrace House. Add in the fact that isolationism probably didn’t help with the pandemic, and you have a recipe for disaster. Side note: trolls are trolls and they exist in all fandom. Shifting blame doesn’t eliminate the toxicity in your own fandom. Assholes exist everywhere, and the Internet will alway make them feel empowered to share their negativity.
My father took his own life in 2013. Suicide is a person finding a way to end their own pain, but in doing so, creates immeasurable pain for the people around them. I hope Hana found peace, and I’m horrified that anyone would think that there’s no solution for them at only 22 years old. My heart goes out to her family and fans.
This SUCKS, but that’s why it’s important to talk about it.