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REVIEW: Thermae Romae GN 1


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hyojodoji



Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 583
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:33 pm Reply with quote
Lys wrote:
Mari Yamazaki did move to Chicago after starting the series, so it is possible she might share some thoughts on US bathing practices in the future (it'd be out of place in the main series, but maybe in one of her essays)...

Actually, in an article Ms Yamazaki has said she can manage somehow because she is telling herself that she lives in the USA only for a limited period, and in another article she has described her life in Chicago as internment in Chicago. So she may not like her life in the USA. I don't know about how she feels about US bathing practices, though.
 
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lys



Joined: 24 Jun 2004
Posts: 950
Location: mitten-state
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:09 pm Reply with quote
here-and-faraway wrote:
Lys wrote:
I didn't have much interest in this series, until I read it. Then I decided it was awesome :)

What did you like about it? I'm really on the fence about whether or not to purchase it. Thanks!

Both settings—Ancient Rome and modern, often rural Japan—are really well done. I love the friendly old folks Lucius encounters, enjoying their baths and happy to share the enjoyment with this odd new fellow. (I think the translator also does a great job conveying their colloquial speech in an easy-to-read way.)

I also like the humour, from things like Lucius' exaggerated reactions and exclamations in Latin to the sights and food/drink, or when someone hands him a yukata or towel to cover up, and he wraps it around like a toga (and then stands there proudly like a perfect sculpture. maybe it's just me, but I crack up every time). After a while, Lucius himself started to grow on me, not just as a gag character, but as an earnest, hard worker who sincerely loves baths and his country and wants to do his best for them (even if readers and characters (both Roman and Japanese) think he's a little strange).

And then there's the art. I think my first impression was that it was scratchy and vaguely ugly, but the detail in the settings (lush vegetation and grand architecture; a cluttered private home bath) is lovely, and the realistic renderings of people add a lot of character and personality. (I keep coming back to those great, rustic old folks!)

Overall, I guess I'm impressed that I went from having no interest (in the series or in baths), to fascinated curiosity, to enthusiastic convert, all after reading the series and then experiencing it for myself.

hyojodoji wrote:
Lys wrote:
Mari Yamazaki did move to Chicago after starting the series, so it is possible she might share some thoughts on US bathing practices in the future (it'd be out of place in the main series, but maybe in one of her essays)...

Actually, in an article Ms Yamazaki has said she can manage somehow because she is telling herself that she lives in the USA only for a limited period, and in another article she has described her life in Chicago as internment in Chicago. So she may not like her life in the USA. I don't know about how she feels about US bathing practices, though.

What articles were these? I don't think it's been in any of the essays so far (through v4?). She didn't seem so impressed by modern European bathing either though, so I didn't expect she'd have great things to say about the US.
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hyojodoji



Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 583
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:16 pm Reply with quote
Lys wrote:
What articles were these?

They are two articles in her blog.
http://moretsu.exblog.jp/11475838/
http://moretsu.exblog.jp/11966995/

As Maruya Saiichi, too, said, Yoshida Ken'ichi (1912–1977) was almost unconcerned with the culture of the USA. I wouldn't be surprised if Japanese intellectuals of a certain type are little interested in the culture of the USA.

There is a 'quotation' from spoiler[Ben-Hur] in Volume V, though. I have bought and read Volume V of Thermae Romae.
 
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here-and-faraway



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
Posts: 1505
Location: Sunny California
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:36 pm Reply with quote
Lys wrote:
here-and-faraway wrote:
Lys wrote:
I didn't have much interest in this series, until I read it. Then I decided it was awesome Smile

What did you like about it? I'm really on the fence about whether or not to purchase it. Thanks!

Overall, I guess I'm impressed that I went from having no interest (in the series or in baths), to fascinated curiosity, to enthusiastic convert, all after reading the series and then experiencing it for myself.


Thanks a bunch! That was really helpful!
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katscradle



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 469
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:17 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Rich with period detail in both the art and the story, this unlikely tale of public bathing manages to be fascinating and engrossing even to an audience to whom the idea of getting naked in a tub with perfect strangers sounds more gross than appealing.

I had to laugh very hard at this because the idea of bathing naked with someone being gross is probably as puzzling to me as other people feel about public baths. I hope the books are received well in English now.

I'm not done reading this all yet but, I very much like the humour. The phallic chapter is probably my favorite so far. The Yen Press edition is very pretty too. Though I have had it sitting on my coffee table for a while and the giant block of the title on the acetate cover started to get on my nerves for some reason. Smart thing that it comes off to reveal the art underneath! It also made me nostalgic for the natural hot springs that is a little trip from my hometown. It's a bathing suit resort with different temperature pools, one with a slide and everything. But, I never went on the slide myself. I loved soaking in one of the hotter pools as many times as I could since you could only be in that one for about 10 minutes at a time.
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ittoujuu



Joined: 25 Sep 2009
Posts: 159
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:15 pm Reply with quote
I just finished reading Vol. 1 a couple nights ago, and I really enjoyed it. The hardcover binding and presentation from Yen Press was impressive, and the fact that the volume contains the first two Japanese volumes in one helps defray the pricier MSRP (although it can be had for $20 on Amazon, which is where I got it). Definitely a nice showpiece volume, and something easily loanable if you know someone who enjoys stories about Rome. Not sure how I feel about the plastic coverslip - I understand why it's there, but I feel like the book didn't really need it, and took it off while I read it.

As for the story, the single biggest foible of Thermae Romae is the plot device of having Lucius get sucked into a bath portal to modern Japan every time, and every time coming away with a new insight about how to improve his public baths. I kept wondering, "How long can the series keep doing this and have it not feel worn out?" But at the same time, even as I recognized that, I enjoyed all the times he showed up in the modern world, analyzing it with his antiquated understanding of the world (shower hoses = intestinal tubing!), then seeing how he would adapt those ideas with the materials and craftwork available to him in Rome.

I also enjoyed that, over time, the story built up a background drama with Lucius and his concern for Emperor Hadrian. The series needed a more substantial story to frame its central device, and it seems Yamazaki recognized that pretty soon into the comics, so kudos to her for that.

Thermae Romae is also easy to like, in that it's one of those titles where there just isn't much out there like it, so it leaves a particularly memorable impression. That it's well-done is, of course, important, but it's a series that will attract new readers because of the concept. I'm looking forward to volume 2 to see what new problems will befall Lucius, and if there's anything a good bath can't fix (the bar is pretty high after good baths won a war campaign). I'm excited for him to invent the high-pressure shower head.
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noblesse oblige



Joined: 22 Dec 2012
Posts: 262
Location: Florida
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:33 am Reply with quote
Does anyone know if the live action film is going to get a North American release? If not, does anyone know of any other avenues with which I could watch it with english subtitles?
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