I have a lot of love for the Thermae Romae project as a concept just crazy enough to work. The original manga by Mari Yamazaki follows an Ancient Roman named Lucius who struggles to design bath houses for the Roman people, before discovering a hidden warp hole that takes him to modern-day Japan. It’s a goofy series with a crazy concept, for sure, but it’s also unique and engaging enough that you’re more than happy to be dragged along by this crazy proposition. It’s this unusual concept that will form the basis of yet another Netflix original anime series hitting the streaming service in 2021, titled Thermae Romae Novae.
When Roman Empire bath designer Lucius ends up in modern Japan, he’ll find the two cultures aren’t so different after all. The anime adaptation of Mari Yamazaki’s bathhouse comedy Thermae Romae Novae hits the screen in 2021! pic.twitter.com/SeS1ZMS83W
— NX (@NXOnNetflix) October 27, 2020
This isn’t the first time the manga has been adapted, nor is it the first time the series has been made into an anime. Not only was the manga the basis for two highly-engaging live action movies that I recently discussed as part of my film column on live-action anime and manga adaptations, the series was adapted into an anime in 2012 for Fuji TV’s noitaminA broadcasting block. This new take on the series is separate from this original anime adaptation.
As things stand, all we have to judge Thermae Romae Novae on is the new key visual, drawn by the original mangaka especially for the announcement. No news on the studio or team involved in the series has been made available at this time, but we can see that the art style for the series retains the Roman inspirations while standing apart from both the manga its adapting and the older animated series. I’m particularly interested to see how they handle the language barrier in this new adaptation, since the visual also suggests that Lucius will speak in Italian for the series that has proven a stumbling block for communicating with Japanese people he meets as a result.
We’ll have to wait and see. Thermae Romae Novae will premiere on Netflix in 2021.