Thermae Romae 03 through to 06 (END)

Around two years after the events of the first episode Lucius visits his friend Marcus, who as a stone mason is busy having to churn out statues to commemorate Antonius, the Emperor’s lover who had recently drowned in the Nile. Of course this Greek behaviour of Hadrian‘s was generally looked down upon by Romans so his reputation was also tarnished a bit by it.

Finally got this out.

A matter made a bit more tedious by having to aid his elderly master go to the bathhouse each day, leading Lucius to ponder whether a household bath is possible, and when he ducks beneath the water to retrieve the old man’s strigil he finds his answer. Once again finding himself in modern day Japan but this time in someone’s bathroom, allowing him to behold all the modern day conveniences used for bathing and to lament at just how behind Rome is. At which point an old man steps in and taking him for a foreigner working as an assistant asks him to wash his back and then his hair, passing him a cloth and a shampoo hat, the latter he relates to a wreath of olive leaves. But what amazes him the most is the shower set, causing him to collapse in despair and the old man bringing him a can of beer to refresh him. After which he finds himself back in Rome with the cloth in hand and decides to implement some of the things he saw, putting together a shower set for Marcus’ master which an envoy for the Emperor reports about when he comes to check on the progress of the statues.

Of course when news of this innovation reaches the Emperor he wants to see Lucius at once, an idea that Lucius is a little confused about while his stomach is a bit upset. However when he meets Hadrian himself he finds that he was invited to replace his head architect, asking that he build a bath for him and accompany him to Jerusalem to help him calm his nerves while he tries to find a way to quell a revolt there. The setting then jumps forward 1884 years to modern day Shinjuku, Japan where a young hardware store clerk, Mami is nervous about having to handle an important Italian customer alone, but before this customer arrives Lucius bursts out of one of the bath tubs behind her, causing her to believe that he’s the important Italian customer.

So after borrowing a bathrobe from a nearby mannequin she starts showing him around, appearing to have calmed down a bit as he investigates the bathtubs and when he’s already in despair over just how behind the culture of Rome is she takes it further by showing him an inbuilt television. However with his stomach still upset he has to run off to the restroom where he’s shocked at just how many slaves would need to be deployed for it. After which Mami meets the real customer and Lucius finds himself back in Rome, having built a bath for Hadrian with an aquarium to the side. With Hadrian asking that he come to Jerusalem with him for the good of the empire.

In the next episode we meet Lucius sometime after this as he heads to the foot of Mount Vesuvius to build a bathhouse before they set out for Alexandria, running into some outlaws who claim to be the descendants of those who lost their homes fifty years ago and find his reasons for coming laughable. But after a bit of convincing they agree to help him and begin to have second thoughts when they finally take a bath in the hot spring, during which Lucius finds himself once more in modern day Japan, in a town built around the local hot spring. So after borrowing a change of clothes he starts to look around, eating some meat buns and looking around a gift shop before checking some of the stalls, where his archery skill earns him a bit of attention and a good prize which he sees as proof of his single triumph.

Following this, drawn by the smell he heads into a ramen store where despite only speaking latin he manages to place an order and is simply blown away by it, gulping it all down in a matter of seconds, believing that they too were influenced by the Greeks and being brought to tears. Which with the help of one of the customers the shop owner sees as a compliment and brings him some dumplings on the house, but when the time comes to pay he doesn’t know how to go about it. Offering the shop owner a Roman coin which the same customer offers to exchange for him, so now with some Japanese money Lucius heads back to the gift shop, then bumping into a guy who looks like one of the outlaws advertising a brothel. However in an attempt to get away his prize is knocked into the river and he finds himself back at the foot of Mount Vesuvius when he jumps in after it.

Luckily though all the things he wanted to bring back are still there and with the outlaw’s help he sets about employing some of the ideas he had picked up, meeting up with a Centurion who had been sent with his cohort to help out. Eventually putting an entire town together and bringing life back to the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the innovations he had brought back proving to be a big hit and managing to put all the outlaws back on the straight and narrow. And so as the series ends everyone relaxes in the bath with Lucius claiming that it was the power of the bath that did this.

Thoughts:

The same flaws that kept down the last episode may have still been present but I still liked how this series has turned out, it was short and fun. It’s actually kind of a shame that this series didn’t get a proper anime with proper animation but I don’t really want to dwell on that much.

For what they were the third and fourth episodes were pretty fun, taking the same elements as the first two but switching from the theme of public baths to private baths by having Lucius help someone with their bath and look around a bath store. His reactions to the little things being as great as always though once more I thought his feelings of insignificance were a little over done. Other than that I was also a little surprised to hear Mami voiced by Kana Ueda, as a show on a shoestring budget I just wasn’t expecting to hear a significant VA at all, so that was an added surprise to that episode. That said it was also pretty fun to see just how easily Lucius had managed to drop into those episodes. And I also liked how we got to learn a bit more about the Roman’s way of bathing as well.

Through out all of these episodes though, the thing I probably found the most interesting was the representation of the Emperor, Hadrian who almost seems to be a focus of sorts in what was shown in all these episodes. Quite a bit of time seemed to be spent detailing him, a patron of the arts with a focus on building monuments and architecture, as well as a habit for travelling around the empire and a very Greek attitude to some things. Which despite being unpopular amongst the Romans didn’t seem to hinder his people’s love for him, it really doesn’t take much after seeing all of this to believe that he was a good ruler beloved by his people. And other than that, just like Kana Ueda and Mami it was pretty surprising to hear him voiced by Akio Ootsuka.

Finally the last two episodes/episode was probably the one I liked the most, unlike the last ones which just placed Lucius in a bath house and restricted him to that alone, it dumped him in a modern town and gave him near complete freedom to look around. It wasn’t just limited to baths as he visited stores and even a ramen shop as he explored the town, still fitting in with the theme a bit given that he would later build a similar town built around the hot springs, but at the same time it was almost refreshing. With that element of freedom he had playing a big part in that. Simply put it was just interesting and it would have been interesting to see things go further from that. If this were to continue would we see Lucius getting lost in Japan for prolonged periods of time? Perhaps picking up a bit of Japanese and making a few friends there as he interchanges between the two settings. It’s almost as if this show is ending just as it’s starting to get good.

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