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After Reality Star’s Death, Japan Vows to Rip the Mask Off Online Hate

  • June 02, 2020

For many viewers, the gentle rhythms of “Terrace House,” a show that throws six strangers together in a beautiful home and gently prods them to couple up, seemed like a refuge from the sometimes sordid drama of other reality dating shows.

Where other shows seemed intent on bringing out the ugliest aspects of their contestants’ personalities, “Terrace House” focused on quotidian pleasures. One of the biggest narrative arcs of the last season centered on one cast member’s struggles to make broccoli pasta.

When the show, which is produced by Fuji TV, was picked up by Netflix, it became a surprise international hit, with reviewers praising its often endearingly awkward content.

But online, some Japanese viewers spewed a constant flow of invective against the show’s cast members, ruthlessly picking apart their every misstep and perceived personality flaw.

Ms. Kimura, a professional wrestler, was subjected to especially harsh attacks. When commenters filled her social media mentions with posts calling her a “gorilla” and asking her to “please disappear,” she responded with a meek apology, asking, “If I do, will people love me?”

In an episode that aired in March, she was shown upbraiding a roommate for shrinking one of her expensive wrestling costumes in the dryer. The trolls piled on, telling her to die and criticizing her for her supposed lack of femininity, her muscular build, her outspokenness and the dark skin she inherited from her Indonesian father.

When the show went on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, Fuji TV re-aired the episode and uploaded additional behind-the-scenes footage to YouTube and the show’s official website, drawing a second barrage of attacks.

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