Thermae Romae Novae – The Spring 2022 Preview Guide

What’s this?

In Hadrian’s Rome, Lucius was a Roman architect whose designs were often rejected by builders. To cheer him up, a friend of his invited him to relax in a thermae (public bath). Inside the bathroom, Lucius was accidentally sucked into an underwater hole; when he finally made it to the surface he found himself in a very different bathroom: 20th century Japan.

New Baths of Rome is based on Mari Yamazakiy’s manga is currently airing on Netflix.

How was the first episode?

James Beckett


One of the things that comes with having major ADHD is learning to deal with constantly changing hyperfixations, which means I can totally understand how something like New Baths of Rome
could come into existence. I’ve spent a frankly embarrassing number of hours obsessing over kaiju movies, tokusatsu shows, Gunpla models, and The Muppets (and those are the things I’ve gotten into in the last five years or so), so it’s no surprise to me to learn that there is at least one person in the world whose love of ancient history, architecture, and public baths crossed with such ferocity that an entire multi-media franchise was born.

Here is my main problem with New Baths of Rome: While I’m always up for delving into some history and culture lessons, I don’t particularly care for architecture myself, and I’ve never set foot inside a public bathhouse. Our main character, Lucius, has precisely two personality traits: he loves architecture, and his dream in life is, and I quote, “to build bathhouses that make everyone smile!” Even when you throw in the show’s novel time travel angle (which doesn’t really affect the show’s first episode at all), the core of New Baths of RomeThe appeal of lies in its unapologetic obsession with bathhouse cultures past and present.

What that means is that outside of the very specific niche appeal of bathhouses, I don’t find much else to latch onto with this story. The historical drama isn’t well-written enough to stand on its own, and there isn’t much humor out of it. In short, while the material here is perfectly fine for an educational documentary, I’m not sure it’s the kind of anime I want to sit down and watch on a regular basis.

Heck, the anime actually comes with live-action documentary segments that close out its episodes, and I find them much more compelling than the rest of the show they’re attached to. The segments that follow the author Mari YamazakiThe quest to “rediscover Japanese public bath culture” is genuinely interesting and features some lovely images of real-world public bath settings, and the relatively drab and uninspired visuals from anime just don’t hold up in comparison. It doesn’t help that, in all the scenes set inside the hot springs themselves (of which there are plenty), the show smacks this cheap-looking, hideous steam filter at the top of the screen.

I’ve heard that roman baths It has a sizable fan base, so it’s entirely possible that future episodes of the show will give me more of a reason to stick around and invest in the bathhouse mania. As it is though, I don’t think New Baths of Rome is for me; at least, if I ever go back to the show, I can easily imagine skipping all the anime parts to get to the documentary parts. Apparently, that’s where the real bathhouse action is.

Caitlyn Moore


the sleeve of roman baths is a critically acclaimed award winner. The first anime adaptation was a low-budget short film that developed a cult following for its quirky humor. The new series that just premiered on Netflix, New Baths of Romeit’s got a TV series’ worth of full-length episodes, complete with attempts at pathos and backstory, and it has the same director as the critically panned one. African salaryman. It’s also boring.

For a series with a concept as strange as “The Roman architect travels back in time through a portal in a bathroom looking for inspiration”, you really don’t need to try very hard to develop character motivation. For some reason though, they felt the need to give Lucius a reason to truly love baths and a tragic childhood that involved a dead father and bullies. Can’t he just be a guy who loves soaking himself in hot water and devising new ways to do it? The first episode has no jokes and feels long, drawn out and pointless.

Yet somehow, that’s not the most puzzling decision the anime staff made. You see, the people in togas and the marble-columned buildings aren’t enough for us to realize this all happened a long time ago. We couldn’t possibly figure that out on our own. The distant past was all in sepia tones, right? Bright colors weren’t invented until the 1950s! Everything until then was muddy and dark. Unfortunately, the half-baked color scheme, coupled with pen-and-ink-style shading, makes it look like everything has been rubbed with dirt. In a series about bathing and cleaning. It is foolish

Maybe New Baths of Rome pick up after this. I hear you have Kenjiro Tsuda yelling in Latin, so that’s something.

Richard Eisenbeis


It is funny, roman baths it’s so mainstream here in japan that despite never having read a page of the manga or seen the live action movie, i already knew the basic setup only through cultural osmosis, which is why watching this confused me a bit . What I was expecting was a time-traveling Roman in awe of some facet of Japanese hot spring culture over and over again. And while that may be what the series becomes, this first episode certainly wasn’t.

Rather, this episode gives us the backstory of our series protagonist, Lucius, showing why he became an architect of a bathhouse and where his philosophy on bathing came from. But more than that, this episode is about how blue-collar workers find importance and pride in their daily work. For a mason, it is knowing that their work will record the past and inspire the future. For Lucius’ father and grandfather, it’s about creating a place where people can de-stress and be ready to face a new day. In other words, they may be cogs in Roman society, but they know they are vital to its operation.

It’s a solid setup for the series, even if it’s ultimately not representative of the rest of the show. It’s a shame that the animation doesn’t really hold up. In wide shots there is a noticeable drop in detail and in scenes with some sort of fast motion it looks choppy to say the least. And the live-action ending with the author of the manga is pretty much Japanese TV in a nutshell, i.e. a person traveling around Japan talking about how cool some aspect of Japanese culture (usually food) really is.

All in all, I don’t know if it’s my cup of tea, but it certainly wasn’t bad.