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Manga / Thermae Romae

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Thermae Romae (Latin for "Roman baths") is the manga and anime story of a 2nd century Roman architect named Lucius, who designs baths. He gets transported to 21st century Japan, learns about their bath and toilet technology, and brings these modern ideas back to his time.

A live-action movie adaptation was released in Japan in April 2012, along with a sequel in 2014. The manga, written by Mari Yamazaki, has ended after reaching six volumes, and is available in English print thanks to Yen Press. The anime has recently been licensed by Discotek Media.


This work provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Hadrian's greatest fear is that he might outlive his adopted son (and chosen successor) Commodus. Later on, his fear comes true.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: Of the anime, done by Chip and Ironicus during their Let's Play of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
  • Anachronism Stew
  • Ancient Rome
  • Artistic License – Biology: You can't cultivate bananas from a seed (at least not a modern-day variety of banana), as Lucius is able to do with the banana he brings back to Rome from Japan. To cultivate a new banana plant, you need an offshoot from an old banana plant. This is besides the fact that bananas are not native to Egypt (where Hadrianus first tastes one), which is far from their native tropical climate.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: A lesser explored aspect of time travel to the past and to the future is the impact of bacteria and viruses - someone from the distant past traveling to the future could (potentially) expose himself to bacteria and viruses which, while harmless to the humans whose time frame he is visiting, could be troublesome or in extreme cases, even deadly for him. Worse, he could bring them back to his own timeline and infect everybody else.
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  • Babies Ever After: The finale has Satsuki reuniting with Lucius in Ancient Rome, and go on to bear his child.
  • Darkerand Edgier: The live-action films. Since the story doesn't have much outside its "Ancient Roman in modern Japan" theme, the films shoehorn in a Rome civil war scenario, a villain who serves as a rival to Lucius, and the romance between Lucius and Mami (the Japanese lady he encounters) is doomed to end because neither can stay in each other's era.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Or rather Roman out of the Roman Empire
  • Furo Scene: Including the Roman equivalent.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: With each trip to the future, Lucius brings back knowledge of modern technology, and has contemporary Roman craftsmen (such as his best friend, stonemason Marcus) reproduce them, with results akin to Bamboo Technology.
  • Gratuitous Latin:
    • Averted — Lucius mostly speaks in Japanese, though that probably represents his Latin in a way that the audience will understand. In addition, he uses the Classical pronunciation when he does speak Latin.
    • The Spanish translation of the manga does have Gratuitous Latin everywhere, sometimes with terrible anachronisms like saying someone is an engineer summa cum laude.
  • Going Native:
    • While trapped in the hot springs town of Ito, Lucius gradually acclimates to modern life.
    • Similarly, Satsuki goes back in time to reunite with Lucius, eventually settling down with him in Ancient Rome.
  • Heroic BSoD: Lucius has one of these after he learns that his wife has not only left him, but has also married another man, and is pregnant with her new husband's children.
  • Hot Springs Episode: With Mount Vesuvius substituting for Mount Fuji in providing the hot water for the outdoors bath.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Emperor Hadrian recently lost his gay lover, in his introductory episode Lucius is afraid Hadrian might become infatuated with him and attempt Sexual Extortion. They do become friends, but no more than that, and Lucius, so far, is shown to be strictly attracted by women.
  • Instant Expert:
    • In the 2012 live-action film, reading "Latin For Dummies" is enough for Mami to become fluent.
    • In the manga it's totally different, people trying to communicate with Lucius either have no sense what he's saying (they try to speak English) or already understand Latin due to being a Roman Empire otaku.
  • Involuntary Time Travel: Lucius has no control over his time travel jaunts - they just happen.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Emperor Hadrian is gay, and despite his rank most Roman's see male homosexuality as a laughably Greek affectation. The palace soldiers frequently joke that Lucius is Hadrian's new lover, a sentiment his baby crazy wife shares once he starts traveling all over the empire with Hadrian on account of his bathhouse building projects. This becomes one of the reasons why she decides to leave him.
  • Limited Animation: The animation in the anime consists largely of manipulation of and pans across still frames with only the lips moving.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • The concept of bathtubs, toilets, toothbrushes and other sanitation practices. Possibly inverted though because the significance of hygiene and sanitation was something new for Lucius (and ancient Rome back then), and also because Japan has above-average plumbing technology and different cultural standards relating to baths.
    • Lucius' reaction to fruit-flavoured milk implied something huge was happening, but really it was just very good milk.
    • Lucius reaction to most things in modern Japan count as this.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Lucius' wife, Livia, is rather big on this. This, along with the rumors tha Lucius had become Hadrian's lover, becomes the final straw for Livia, who decides to leave Lucius. Later on, she remarries another man and becomes pregnant from him.
  • Otaku: Satsuki is this towards anything related to the Roman Empire. She founded a Roman Empire themed club in high school and learned English, French, Italian and Latin so that she could read about the Roman Empire from western sources. This becomes useful once she meets Lucius. She's the first person of the "flat-faced people" he can communicate with.
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: The trope image and nearly every scene is set in a bathhouse.
  • Time Travel Romance: Lucius and Satsuki develop feelings for each other. So do Lucius and Mami in the live-action films, though they don't get together.
  • Translation Convention: Lucius (and all other Romans) speak in Japanese, and "think" in Japanese as well. The only time a Roman speaks in Latin is when Lucius is in Japan and trying to communicate with the Japanese.
  • Values Dissonance: between Ancient Rome and modern Japan, though it's mostly played for laughs.