Old meets new in the time-traveling gag anime, Thermae Romae Novae. Photo credit: Studio NAZ

Arrival at Netflix in March 2022, Thermae Romae Novae – translated to New Roman Baths from Latin – follows architect Lucius Modestus in his quest to design the most beautiful bathhouses in Rome. The anime is produced by Studio NAZ, who are best known for the romantic comedy My First Girlfriend is a Gal and sci-fi series Id:Invaded.

Based on Mari Yamazaki’s manga, Thermae Romae, the story’s protagonist, Lucius, nearly loses his job as an architect when his company fires him for creating outdated designs. However, after finding a surprising portal to another world, he is transported to a modern Japanese bathhouse where his exposure to new developments in bath technology gives him the inspiration needed to improve his own designs.

In 2012, a collaboration between Gonzo and DLE brought Thermae Romae’s first anime adaptation. Though only three episodes long (not counting the many collaborative shorts with retail chains and toothbrush brands), the time travel anime and its wacky humor came alive.

That wasn’t the first time Thermae Romae saw a big screen film adaptation either. In 2011, the manga was turned into a live-action film that was shot at Italy’s Cinecittà Studios, the same studio used by the 2005 TV series Rome. After three awards, including the 36th Japan Academy Film Prize for Best Actor for Hiroshi Abe for his portrayal as Lucius, the film also got a sequel in 2014 titled Thermae Romae II.

Who is Thermae Romae’s manga artist?

Mari Yamazaki, who moved to Italy in 1984, attended the National Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. With a background in art history and oil painting, she used her skills to combine Renaissance-inspired pieces with manga. This love of Japanese and Italian culture eventually culminated in the creation of Thermae Romae along with other mangas set in Italy such as Olympia Kyklos and Plinivs.

A pencil drawing of a Roman man reading a book titled 'Manga'.
Modern Japan and ancient Rome are two worlds that rarely collide, but Mari Yamazaki’s life experience has brought them together. Photo credit: Mari Yamazaki

In 2010, Thermae Romae won the annual Manga Taisho award, beating tough competitors such as Takeshi Obata’s Tsugumi Ohba and Bakuman and Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish. The manga also won the short stories category of the 2010 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.

Despite the story being set in Rome and Japan, the idea first came to Yamazaki when she was living in Lisbon, Portugal. in a interview with Nippon.comshe explained:

We lived in a drafty old wooden house that was about 80 years old and was starting to show its age. And there was no tub in the bathroom! Like all manga artists, I spend hours at my desk every day. Problems with stiff shoulders and back pain are part of the territory. I longed to soak in a nice warm bath.

Mari Yamazaki

And while he doesn’t have access to time travel, Yamazaki was able to experience the reactions of Italians firsthand while working as a travel guide:

I once led a tour group of ten quite feisty and feisty Italian women on a tour of Japan. And what they especially enjoyed was staying in a traditional hot spring inn. They loved the simplicity and harmony of the traditional Japanese inn, as well as the great service and attention to detail during meals and during their stay.

Mari Yamazaki

Main character Lucius of Thermae Romae in a bath.
Kick back and relax in March with the latest anime adaptation from Thermae Romae. Photo credit: Mari Yamazaki

Where can you watch Thermae Romae Novae?

Thermae Romae Novae will be available worldwide from March 28th and will be streamed on Netflix. Tsuda Kenjirou, known for his portrayal as Ogata Hyakunosuke in Golden Kamuy and Hannes in Attack on Titan, will provide the voice of Lucius Modestus. As for the rest of the voice cast, stay tuned for new developments.

While it has not been confirmed whether Thermae Romae Novae will receive additional translations in addition to the English sub, dubs of other popular recent anime on Netflix, such as Komi Can’t Communicate in Fall 2021, will hopefully serve as models for future releases.

There is currently no confirmation that the anime will be coming to other streaming services like Crunchyroll, but since the 2012 anime adaptation, Thermae Romae, is on the Crunchyroll platform, there’s always a possibility!


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