Hmmm…. Thermae Romae? Roman Baths? This is a Japanese film? Yep!
This was a total surprise for me. I saw it at Roy Thompson Hall which was maybe half full but almost entirely of the Toronto Japanese youth. I felt old and very European. The movie is a comedy that is currently one of the most popular films in Japan and the connection between Japan and Rome is that both cultures are very keen on public baths. It is based on a Manga (look it up) novel. Basically a graphic novel as we know them here, that tells the story of a Roman architect ordered by Emperor Hadrian to build a personal bath house for him alone. Lacking confidence in his own ability he is not sure where to start but as fortune has it he accidentally tumbles on a time vortex that takes him to modern Japan. Hilarity ensues as ancient European culture encounters modern Japanese culture. Some of the funniest scenes include our Roman architect and hero encountering modern Japanese plumbing (toilets). Let’s just say the modern Japanese toilet has many features our common household toilets lack. He takes back the ideas he finds to ancient Rome and of course succeeds beyond Hadrian’s and the Roman public’s wildest dreams. There is much more the story and he make multiple trips and there is a love interest in Japan and political challenges in Rome to overcome.
A surprising film and story that is wholly Japanese. Even the Romans are played by leading Japanese actors. The lead in this film is Hiroshi Abe who is a young and handsome heartthrob in Japan. He and the director and many of the cast were there and as he was introduced the Japanese fans (particularly the women) were greatly appreciative. I hope it comes to general release in Canada and if it does I really urge you to see it despite is being all in Japanese but with good subtitles. It is a funny movie that will introduce you to a new cultural experience.