“In Hot Water” – Thermae Romae – 8/10 Sunbeams

Genre: Comedy/Historical

Review Status: Complete (6 Episodes/ 6 Episodes

Licensed: No, this anime is not licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: The art is surprisingly well-detailed and looks pretty good. Characters are distinctive, some looking more realistic while others are…. not. But main characters are made with a lot of care. Since this was animated in Flash, I expected something a little more rough and hap-hazard, but it’s really very smooth and well-done! I’m highly impressed.

Summary: The story is a comedy about Lucius, an architect of public bath houses in ancient Rome, who time-travels to various modern-day baths in Japan. The author explores the two cultures in the world “that have loved baths the most: the Japanese and the Romans. (Wikipedia)

Review: Thermae Romae manages to be part historical comedy and part homage to something that both Romans and modern Japanese hold dear to their hearts: Bathing. It’s something that we Westerners take for granted, but something that these cultures take some glory and pride in, and this anime takes this idea and runs with it!

Taking place when Roman baths are stagnating and no new innovations are coming around, Lucius finds himself stuck in a creative rut, his career going nowhere. A chance slip and journey into unconsciousness brings him to modern-day Japan, where the creative marvels of the bathroom inspire him, and when he arrives back, he’s determined to bring back all the things he’s seen! From inventions like a bidet and a shower head, to foods like ramen and hotspring-boiled eggs, he’s enchanted with the things that the ‘flat-faces” have come up with!

The majority of the humor comes from Lucius’ astonishment at the modern world and it’s amazing possibilities, which can make it feel slightly repetitive. But on the other hand, there are so many things that we do take for granted, and seeing his inventive ways of recreating what we have is always interesting! Honestly, this is a great look at something so culturally imbedded, most people don’t think twice about it.

Overall, it’s not always ‘lol’ funny, but manages to get it right more than enough times.

Recommended: 10+. A few people are said to be homosexual (it wasn’t exactly hidden back then), the people in the baths are implied to be naked though you never see anything below the waist, there’s threatened violence that’s never carried out, and mention of a brothel.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Saint Young Men (manga)

Nichijou (anime)

Yakitatte Japan! (anime)

Kyou Kara Maou! (anime)

Hyouge Mono (anime)

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