Technically I’m not the one that started watching this. An associate was over and decided to try some things on Netflix and found this one. It was rather amusing and felt it would be something weird to review, yeah… with all the bizarreness I’ve seen THIS is the one I find weird.
Set in Ancient Rome, the show stars Lucius Modestus a Roman Bath architect. Each episode after the first (which is more him deciding he wants to be a bath architect ) involves him having to solve a problem with designing a Roman bath. It’s how he finds the inspiration for his ideas where the unusual part of the story comes.
Each episode has at some point Lucius get a little too deep in the water then emerging in modern day Japan and experiencing their bathing stuff (there is one episode where it was Japan about a hundred years before the present). I don’t recall them ever explaining why or how this happens but probably best they didn’t, sometimes knowing too much of the how’s and why’s of something messes with the fun. The locations he visits are always somewhat related to the problem he’s facing in ancient Rome at the time. It’s worth noting that he speaks exclusively Latin and can’t understand a word of what anyone says when in Japan and they can’t understand him. This means that he has some rather amusing inner dialog. All this means the show is rather funny without actually telling any jokes. A large ( often naked) Roman man interacting with (mostly) modern Japan’s baths and spas with no understanding and the conclusions he comes to. Well, that and apparently all Rome’s problems are being solved by good bath design. It’s an element of absurdist humour in the premise but all the characters are played as the straight man.
There are a few other recurring characters such as Emperor Hadrian, but while there is an ongoing narrative it’s not all that important to the episodic nature meaning you won’t be lost if you skip an episode or two after the main elements of the plot are done in episode 2.
It’s worth noting that while there is A LOT of large naked Roman men, it’s all tasteful nudity so you don’t actually see anything… other than the buttocks at most.
Every episode at the end has a small section where the author of the original works Mari Yamazaki explores and talks about hot springs in Japan, giving a little more information to the viewers about the real life inspirations.
Thermae Romae Novae is definitely an odd one. While the I’ve seen many incredible fanciful shows of gods, demons, digital monsters etc. For some reason a time traveling Roman bath architect comes off as weirder. Perhaps it’s because outside of that detail it is being done very non fanciful. Still definitely for those with Netflix worth a check out, should put a smile on your face.