Netflix’s Love Village is a blissful sight to behold

Love Village is a Japanese reality TV show that released on May 2 of this year, and it sets out to do something much more interesting than the average dating show of its kind. Coming to an end by the time that May comes to a close, Love Village’s humble and honest intentions make for a simple but effective hook which is immediately captivating.

Every single participant on the show is aged between their mid 30s and 60s. Thought you’d seen everything the genre has to offer? Think again. This might just be the most wholesome one yet.

Something genuinely new for a reality TV show

Love Village on Netflix

While the show initially starts off with four women and four men to potentially pair up as romance naturally runs its course, there will eventually be a total of sixteen singletons appearing in Love Village by the time its final few episodes air on May 31.

The initial lineup of ladies includes 45 year old therapist Totchan, 39 year old convenience store clerk Okayo, 45 year old barista Yukiemon and 60 year old picture book author Minane.

The men, meanwhile, include 51 year old actor Hollywood, 35 year old businessman Tabo, 60 year old psychologist Johnny and 46 year old Italian chef Anchovy — obviously with a few of those being nicknames or stage names.

The show’s premise is to allow these older participants of to find what may be the last true love of their lives. Located just behind the idyllic village is the “bell of love” that participants ring to indicate when they will publicly confess their feelings to their crush as signal of their impending departure – either as a couple, or as a singleton.

The confessors will have to wait for the following day to hear their crush’s response to their declaration of love. If their crush does not return their affections, then the bell-ringer leaves the village alone. This opens up a space in the roster, with the show quickly throwing in a new person if this happens. But if the feeling is mutual, then the newly paired-up couple leaves together, opening up two new spaces within the house.

Something genuinely heartfelt for a reality TV show

The participants will ultimately end up divulging their pasts in one way or another. Sometimes this is through interview-like segments straight to camera, with key scenes re-enacted through animated shorts that are incredible to witness. At other times, these stories simply come out naturally as the participants grow closer to one another. Their backstories may or may not consist of having been married once before, being divorced multiple times, or already having established a family of their own.

That’s not to mention the more personal and uncommon hardships each one of them have had to deal with during their youths, or even more recently. There is a pleasing amount of empathy and understanding on display from every single participant whenever an individual speaks their truth. It is heartwarming to see, since most participants have experienced similar hardships, or have relevant, surprising facts to share with one another about the situation.

We won’t get into any specifics here, since the most hard-hitting conversations throughout the show are best experienced first-hand. But while being incredibly heartfelt throughout, Love Village provides some brilliant laugh-out-loud moments as well. We get the best of both worlds here.

A reality TV show that makes you feel every emotion possible

Hosted by Becky and Atsushi Tamura, the latter of whom seems to have completely shed the cruel persona he always had on during REAL LOVE, the overall vibe of the show is warm and relatable. Tamura’s perception of and reactions to what is going on in the village feels a lot more heartfelt and genuine than in his previous TV appearances, with him even being prone to tearing up quite often.

Thanks in part to the growing familiarity and bond between the two hosts — who end up frequently teasing one another whenever things get more heavy — there are plenty of recurring jokes that pop up to quell the emotional highs of it all. It’s always wild to see where Anchovy’s mind goes whenever he thinks his female housemates are flirting with him, resulting in him full-on believing that he is frequently involved in love triangles. It’s hysterical.

It’s also very interesting to see how each passing participant that makes up this group adds to the overall dynamic of the entire household. This is especially notable considering all the things that they get up to together. Not only are they keeping tabs on monthly expenses that they all share, but their phones are taken away from them completely for the duration of their stay – which could be well over an entire month, or even two.

Since the participants are only allowed on the grounds of the house itself within the mountains, the participants have an interesting range of activities available to them, including tending to the garden space, spending time cooking or even renovating and extending the house and its outside facilities.

Something that genuinely represents the bitter and sweet of life itself

While deemed as a supposed spiritual successor to the notoriously infamous Terrace House, it is more in line with Ainori, another romance based reality TV show — one where participants travel to specific destinations. Comparatively, Love Village is just that much more mature for a dating show of its kind. Participants are a lot more direct and vocal compared to any other reality TV show we have seen come out of Japan, primarily due to the ages of its participants alone. How they divulge the details of their love, work and family lives captures just how authentic and honest the participants are, not only with each other but with themselves too.

It is beyond pleasant to see a reality TV show cast really know what they want. And while you may end up supporting certain participants over others – Oyako is who I will forever remember due to her personal struggles of having low confidence and failing to live her life for herself up until this point – it makes everything about the show that much more grounded.

What with so many small gestures being made to one another, Love Village makes you feel just that bit more optimistic about your own future, life itself and the way we are with one another.

The participants are so respectful of each other and one another’s hardships, and they see so much value in everyone that it brought a tear to my eye numerous times. Love Village hits the nail on the head in not just being a great depiction of blossoming romance, but as a showcase of platonic love. The many friendships that start up in the show are heart-warming, and when certain participants finally have to say their goodbyes there is not a dry eye in the Love Village, nor with its audience.

There is nothing overly dramatic about the show overall. Other than the Backstreet Boys playing way too often, presumably in an attempt to pull in its target audience of millennials — seriously, I detest whoever made “Everybody” the theme song of the show, it’s obnoxious — nothing is overdone. While its narration tends to be played up for either comedic purposes or even for foreshadowing, it’s all very, very entertaining.


Love Village not only made me feel great when watching it, but also really pleasantly surprised by how genuinely lovely people can be. It has it all – it’s entertaining, touching, and enthusiastically uplifting. It’s a must-watch on Netflix, for sure. Do not miss out on it!

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Lilia Hellal
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