For the first time on this blog, I am going to talk about a movie that I saw recently. It is a movie that has only come out in Japan so far to my knowledge and it has been pretty much a hit so even if you can't watch it where you are, maybe you can have a taste of what kind of movie is popular in Japan right now.
The title is Thermae Romae and it features some famous actors and actresses such as the two characters played by none other than Abe Hiroshi and Ueto Aya (you can see them in lots of Dramas and movies).
First off, Thermae Romae is based on a manga of the same name which was published by Star Comics and is also winner of the prize Manga Taisho 2011.
I haven't read the original manga but it seems that the story doesn't differ so much.
Here is how it goes.
The story revolves around a public bath architect, Lucius during the reign of the 14th Emperor of the Roman Empire, Hadrianus (Hadrin).
Creating the thermae, public bathhouses is his passion but Lucius struggles to come up with new ideas. One day while bathing at a thermae, he is unexpectedly sucked into a crack in a bathtub, and finds himself in a public bath in the-21st-century Japan ! He thinks he's in one of the Empire's provinces and is amazed at their 'advanced bathing equipment.' This is how his time-travel adventure starts.
So the story happens in 2 different place and time, ancient Rome and modern Japan.
As every Roman, Lucious love public bathhouses and consider this "public bathhouse culture" as one of the most important elements of Ancient Rome's culture, that is why he wants to improve it and promote it even more. Then he is basically always thinking about innovations he could bring to Roman public bathhouses.
Lucious will time-travels several times to Japan and each time, he will come accross the same people and tie bonds with them. But most importantly, each time he will become inspired by the innovations found there and will introduce them in Rome once he returns back.
So each time Lucious comes back from Modern Japan with new ideas and design a new bathhouse, you get to see it and you find yourself always looking forward to how it is going to look like and this is in my opinion the most enjoyable part of the movie.
One of the funny things is that the main character, the Roman architect Lucious, but also many other Roman characters are played by Japanese actors and speak Japanese. When the scene takes place in Rome, some of the secondary characters (in the background) are westerners but speak Japanese too. However when Lucious is in Japan, he will speak Latin but think in Japanese... It is pretty weird but well, of course, the point of the movie is not to be realistic at all so it's not important but I just thought it was funny.
I also found interesting that they chose some Japanese actors with "unjapanese features" to appear in the movie, beginning with Abe Hiroshi.
Anyway, the main theme of the movie is really original : the common passion that 2 civilisations very far from each other in distance as well as in time to say the least have for public bathhouses.
If you add to that actors acting extremely well, you end up with a comical movie of high-quality !