Thermae Romae is a giant joke about how an out-of-job architect in Roman times goes to “another world”. That other world being modern day Japan. This architect named Lucius Modestus (possibly a joke on his modest but prideful attitude) does not realize this and instead assumes that he’s talking to “flat-faced slaves” of the roman empire. Astonished by their inventive bathhouses and the miscellaneous properties surrounding them he sought to use this knowledge (not exactly proud of copying them) to better the bathhouses of Rome. This has earned him renown across all of Rome as “Master of Bathhouses”. Albeit the main joke you have to understand is that modern day Japan’s technology is so far ahead of ancient Rome that despite the fact Lucius re-invented Bathhouses with knowledge from Japanese Bathhouses; They cannot replicate the level of finesse and quality as Japan.
Progressively, the jokes get more and more basic. With it conveniently taking place somewhere around 117 – 138 AD (reign of Hadrian). Why is that strangely convenient you may ask? Because Hadrian is one of the more famous homosexual emperors. This is how Azuma Tani (director) tries to cleverly insert gay jokes. Granted, they were not distasteful in any way but I just found the jokes to be boring and silly. After commissioning Lucius to make a completely original design of a bathhouse within his home; Emperor Hadrian would place his hand on Lucius’ shoulder and basically insinuate that Lucius can accompany him in his trek to Jerusalem whilst performing intercourse every once in awhile along the way. These jokes weren’t funny to me but what do I know? Humor is one of the most subjective things in the world, so, if this is your kind of thing then knock yourself out. I will say that there is some culture to these jokes. The joke I just described is probably in reference to how Hadrian had his lover, Antinous, accompany him in many travels to have gay sex along the way.
Another little gag in the anime involves Hadrian commissioning 20 statues of his deceased lover from Lucius’ friend Marcus. Referencing the fact that Hadrian, in real life, also asked for statues to be made. The difference is Hadrian actually asked for 200 statues to be made… As well as founding a whole new city known as Antinopolis; naming it after his oh so beloved. Antinopolis was essentially just a creepy religious city where he made Antinous look like a fucking God! Putting everything else aside to make sure the Temple-City Antinopolis was built from the ground up without a hitch. The joke is that the anime version of Hadrian wanted to look like he cared for Antinous which could easily be achieved by immortalizing him with a statue; namely 20. But really he probably only made those statues to replicate Antinous’ body for personal reasons. *wink wink*
I wanna say that I did laugh once. But only because I was reminded of the fact that Hadrian’s ashes are placed next to his wives’ ashes in his tomb. Essentially trapping him in a dead bedroom for all eternity!
I know I’ve made this all about the gay jokes. There are more variations in there, I suppose but the gay jokes are the only ones with any meat behind them so, again, if you want to check out Thermae Romae then by all means. They’re only like 24 minutes each episode; only containing 5-7 depending if you watch the specials as well. Let me know what you think if you do watch them I’ll just be here. Working on other stuff. Wee!