Thermae Romae came, revolutionized bathing as well as modern anime, then left after scaling the pinnacle of what one can call “epic” – leaving one perplexed at how this masterpiece was conceived.
Master Lucius, the hero of this historic tale, was met with adversity over his traditional architectural designs – haters seemingly did exist since well into the Roman Empire, if not pre-historic times, and of course, they’re present in modern day as well. Many like to bash the beautiful visuals of Thermae Romae, perhaps even being completely ignorant to how the Flash animation process works whilst they do so – yet nonetheless do these visuals remain of top class as there definitely could not have been better a style for such a series with a story avant-garde.
As Lucius arrives at the destination decreed by his emperor, he’s now within the center of a ravaged mess of land run by a small group of bandits – he shows these bandits a treasure they’ve certainly been missing out on, a hot spring.
He goes in the spring himself, and as usual, he’s sent to the land of the “flat faced tribe”, which is no more than modern Japan. After submerging to the bottom of the body of water – here is where the series goes all out and makes the most of both story and sight. Lucius explores the new world he’s in to find that it is a village built around hot springs – shocking him as he traverses the area to see it all exceed anything his Roman nation is capable of.
Waling around, his first life changing encounter is with steamed buns which lured him in with their scent – and left him electrified with their exquisite taste. Secondly, he stumbles upon a merchant’s shop which he ventures inside to see a variety of knickknacks which certainly can satisfy one, regardless of their homely appearance, in a typical souvenir fashion – and indeed, Lucius does purchase one crafted item which looks to be presumably a frog to take back to his home.
Our hero then comes across a pair of cute girls enjoying a festival stall game – they see Lucius looking at them and with the ever-prevalent Japanese hospitality, they conclude the “foreigner” might want to try. They pass to him their bow and arrows, and Lucius hits the bulls-eye three times consecutively with ease – mentioning the quality of the ranged equipment to be very weak, and the distance to the target all so close, yet no matter the specifics, he wins himself a trophy to take back to his homeland.
After so much activity, he’s famished – deciding to follow yet another alluring aroma in the air till he stumbles upon a ramen shop. If anything, ramen has left him completely bewitched – it’s delicious to the point he’s brought to tears, and as he returns to his home, he applies his inspiration well to turn a dead land into a thriving village.
First returning to the visuals, Lucius would always very strongly portray his emotions with facial expressions which are very defined and even seem exaggerated – yet one would be surprised to know they likely make similar faces themselves on occasion. These powerful emotions are definitely best seen during what is essentially the climax of the final episode, possibly the series even, his first taste of ramen.
In respect to the story, it truly goes without saying. The setting alone is so novel – it’s a concept worthy of immense praise all in itself, let alone to see it cater to such a successfully executed series. Ancient Rome has perhaps only been seen within a certain episode of Aoi Bungaku, a series which if you’ve seen, you know exactly what we mean – as well as an older animation based off that same story. Thermae Romae however is a totally original work – and that feature truly makes the series shine brilliant as the idea is all so genius as well.
Over the course of the series, Lucius has gone from an architect removed of his position, to the single greatest in the nation as he would take in all he could from his adventures and make the most of them back home. A dream made reality within an animation which likewise, set new standards for what excellence can be achieved.