Gintokiro's Blog – An anime blog for news and episodic reviews.

Thermae Romae

Thermae Romae – Episode 02

My body was not ready!!

Lolololol This show is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot begin to imagine how this show was thought about – though they might love Japan a lot as the central premise of this show is Lucius being amazed at how much better Japanese culture is compared to Roman civilization – which isn’t really a fair comparison as the latter is thousands of years younger than the other. In any case, in this episode, Lucius was invited to a councils house to build him an outside bath but Lucius doesn’t know how to go about it. Upon finding an outside hot spring – yup, he ends up in Japan again, with all those flat faced, highly advanced slaves. One thing I can’t figure out from this show, is why he inadvertently makes Lucius refer to Japanese people as such – I don’t know. In either case its not important, though, it doesn’t help that he draws the Japanese people looking so silly.

The majority of comedy in this show doesn’t come from any kind of jokes or some sort of manzai style like the majority of comedy anime nowadays, rather from a typical routine in the plot which we can all see coming yet every time, still wail in laughter. It follows: Lucius sees the flat-faced slaves, they tell him to settle down, they hand him some traditional japanese cuisine/style of bathing and upon trying it, its the best thing ever. The comedy is made almost entirely from this formula and what makes it funny is Lucius’ seiyuu Ono Ryo and the awesome faces he gives us. We get the typical anime overreaction however, the voicing and just the sheer stupidity of his responses are what trigger off the laughs. I especially loved the style in this episode – being handed a hot spring cooked egg and then having some sort of epiphany as if he learnt a universal truth over it, with the world’s great achievements flashing behind Lucius’ gawking face; is priceless. It really highlights how really simple but actually clever the writing in this show is. Ono Ryo makes Lucius and Lucius makes this show.

Whilst the art is really crude, I am actually finding myself liking it more and more. It just suits lucius and honestly, if it was traditional animation, I don’t think his reactions would work as well. I just love the grand way the character carries himself and how epic they make his reactions. It sounds like the lowest form of comedy but if that’s so, then call me a commoner. I handn’t thought this anime would even be a serious contender as a comedy however, if it continues like this, I may give it honourable mentions for comedy of Winter 2012 season. It isn’t any Danshi Koukousei Nichijou however, it will still give you enough laughs. Here’s to looking forward to the next episode!

So that’s what Japan is like…
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Thermae Romae Episode 01 – First Impressions Review

What? This… anime is ridiculous?!

Thermae Romae is an anime about a roman architect who fallas through a large hole in the bathroom floor, which appears to be some sort of time travelling wormhole, and it takes him to modern day Japan where he proceeds to have the most ridiculous conversations and be astonished by everything around him. All in all it looks ridiculous and to be honest, it is. However, ridiculous isn’t always bad and I think Thermae Romae is evidence of that.

There are a couple things that make Thermae Romae distinct and consequently, determine whether you will like it or completely hate it. The first, is the animation. Its got really crude animation being composed of smooth line backgrounds and hard edge stills. These stills are then the people who barely move apart from their mouths to talk and their eyes to blink. They do also change facial features and to be fair it doesn’t seem too still but at times its just random. At one point there was a guy with a paper bag in the Roman bath, some old guy in the Japanese bath sucking on his own teeth and various other things which just looked silly or ugly. That said, the drawings are meant to be more “realistic” as opposed to anime/cartoon styled. This means that the Japanese people look Japanese-ish and the Roman person actually looks Roman. The art looks really simple and whether this is down to the fact that the production values are low or this is the desired animation style the author wanted, I’m not so sure. I haven’t read the manga so I cannot comment on its format though I suspect it is very similar hence, the way it is animated is probably the wish of the author. This way it keeps that comic style of portrayal which is required to make something like this work. If I’m being honest, if the whole thing was animated as per usual, I don’t think it would have the desired effect so in this sense, I guess the author made a right move. That said, I’m still unsure as to whether I like this style. I wasn’t very convinced at the beginning however, as I watched, it kind of grew on me. The only gripe I guess is its annoying seeing some of the people who look ugly or just that the facial expressions are blatantly recycled.

The thing that will draw people to Thermae Romae though, is undoubtedly the comedy that the show is supposed to have. I do not know if it will be for everyone however I found myself laughing a few times and thinking how ridiculous this show is. But it was more of a surprise at how, not-bad, it was. If anything, it was alright. The comedy is composed of Lucius interacting with modern Japanese people. He thinks they have flat faces and comments on their facial features. Luckily, the author also noted that they weren’t speaking the same language so didn’t understand each other – which I was predicting would have been a big faux pas. He also goes around being amazed by fruit milk (milkshake?) and wonders in amazement at the fan and the bottle opener’s complex, advanced technology… It sounds stupid when read aloud but the voice acting is pretty good and the character images actually bring it to life – so that you do actually get a few laughs. The facial expressions, the over-done voicing and all the surprises from Lucius really make the anime funny. After all, it must have been funny enough to warrant an anime from the manga alone. Lucius then takes the various Japanese bath attributes back to Rome and he gains the largest and most popular bath by painting the wall, general Japanese bath etiquette and the fruit milk. One thing I didn’t understand though was, how did he know how to make the fruit milk? Well, its not like the anime makes any sense anyway…

So overall, Thermae Romae isn’t what I expected at all. However, whilst it does have its upsides, I wouldn’t say these are particularly substantial upsides. The humour was good but it wasn’t anywhere comparable to other famous anime comedy.It is only 15 minutes (only about 11 minutes actual screen time) though so I am not expecting it have as many laughs. I guess its a bit of a fun watch but I doubt it will be a major hit for this season. The animation is horrible at parts but bearable at others and the humour is sparse but its not bad. Though I can see this anime getting hugely polarised reviews, Thermae Romae gets a 6.5/10 from me for just being original and somewhat funny. Probably keep on the back burner just because it is short.

Likelihood I’ll be watching: Decent Likelihood I’ll be blogging: Decent