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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, and will be released with an English dub.

In 2020, Netflix announced another animated adaptation of the series, for release in 2021.


This work provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Dumbass: Commodus, while still ultimately seen as a halfway respectable roman noble, has his character more focused on his womanizing and weak constitution rather than the artistic and sensitive side he's more known for. Yamazaki even mentions it in the commentary, but justifies it since it was almost always Played for Laughs.
  • Adult Fear: Hadrian's greatest fear is that he might outlive his adopted son (and chosen successor) Commodus. Later on, his fear comes true.
  • A Good Way to Die: In this series' version of Hadrian's death, he passes in the thermae, overlooking the baths in Baiae and giving his parting words to Lucius.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: Of the anime, done by Chip and Ironicus during their Let's Play of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
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  • Anachronism Stew: Deliberately so. When ruins are found at some of the bathhouses Lucius built, the excavators find ramune-styled bottles, leather shower circles, and bottle caps based off of the ones in modern Japan, all because Lucius took the concepts back with him to his time.
  • 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.
  • Babies Ever After: The finale has Satsuki reuniting with Lucius in Ancient Rome, and go on to bear his child.
  • Central Theme: The importance of bathhouses in Roman and Japanese culture, and how they contribute to the stability and overall citizen satisfaction of their respective countries.
  • Chick Magnet: Many Japanese girls take a shine to Lucius, given his strength, gentlemanly aura, and his exotic foreign flair. Even a horse is charmed by him, and he's unaware of nearly all of it.
  • Darker and 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.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Between Ancient Rome and modern Japan, though it's mostly played for laughs.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Or rather Roman out of the Roman Empire. And later, Japanese (plural) out of modern Japan.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Good King: Hadrian is an emperor version of this trope, both in and out of universe as he's labelled one of the 5 Good Emperors. He constantly visits the outposts of Rome and is always looking for ways to maintain peace throughout the Empire, often resorting to using improved and innovative baths to placate the people. We also see the final Good Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, but as a fifteen year old boy.
  • Good Old Ways: The manga doesn't completely adhere to this mindset, but Lucius and many Roman citizens do prefer traditional thermae and try to keep as much of the old bathhouses alive.
  • 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.
  • Has a Type: Lucius's looks to be reserved or shy women, as he learns when he gets his first erection in a long time observing a Japanese worker shying away from his naked body. Satsuki hits all of his preferences.
  • 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, in his introductory episode, had recently lost his gay lover. 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 to women.
  • Instant Expert:
    • In the 2012 live-action film, reading "Latin For Dummies" is enough for Mami to become fluent.
    • Averted in the manga, where the modern Japanese people trying to communicate with Lucius cannot comprehend his Latin (and try speaking to him in English instead). Satsuki is the sole exception, as she can converse in Latin thanks to years of study as 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 Romans 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.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Satsuki has her father figure in her grandfather, and like Lucius he's a stoic, no-nonsense working man with a soft side.
  • Limited Animation: The animation in the anime consists largely of manipulation of and pans across still frames with only the lips moving.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Lucius and Satsuki respectively, in the end. Mami would have been Satsuki's equivalent in the movie, but their love can't be fulfilled in any meaningful way.
  • 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 that 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.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Satsuki's grandfather has more than a passing resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones.
  • 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.
  • Satellite Love Interest: The final arc kicks off with Marcus asking Lucius to take up a wife, and once he goes back to Japan he really lucks out with Satsuki. She's his perfect fit: intelligent, incredibly beautiful, loves Rome, speaks enough Latin to understand Lucius, and is directly told by her mother to find a "Spartan-like" man when she was younger. Much of her screentime is devoted to their romance.
  • Spiritual Successor: Has one in Olympic Circles, also made by Yamazaki, which concerns an Ancient Greek youth named Demetrios who gets sent to 1964 Japan.
  • 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. Then again, this could be due to the fact that since everyone speaks Latin in Lucius's time, it's the author who's translating the Latin to Japanese.


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