Thermae Romae Novae summary and ending explained

Japanese anime series Thermae Romae Novae follows the story of a proud Roman bath architect Lucius who travels to present-day Japan and gets inspired by the bathing innovations he witnesses there.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

Lucius was a troubled child. He lost his father pretty early to an accident. His father was a thermae architect or a public bath builder in Ancient Rome. His father took pride in his work as he believed that the baths are important structures of Rome- a belief shared by his grandfather as well.

His grandfather told him that public baths play a key role in keeping people happy and content. This sense of pride soon reached through to Lucius and he promised to become a thermae architect, just like his father and grandfather.

Years later, Lucius grows up to be a strong and handsome man. And just like he said, he becomes a thermae architect. Under the Roman emperor Hadrian, Rome is more prosperous than ever and there is fierce competition between bath designers to come up with great designs for public baths as they are the most enjoyed public attractions of all.

However, Lucius finds out his designs are outdated. Seeking inspiration, one day he dives deep into one of the bathhouses. Curious about the design of the drainage system, he goes near to it. Suddenly, he gets sucked down the drain.

After being sucked, he finds himself in an unknown place when he comes out of the water. He has travelled through time to a modern-day Japanese bathhouse.

Unaware of the reality, he looks at the Japanese strangers and thinks it to be a bathhouse for the slaves. He assumes he’s still in the Roman empire. But the technological advancements at the bathhouse fascinate him.

He plans to implement the ideas he has seen. But for that, he must get back home. A stranger offers him a bottle of sweetened milk. He drinks it and in a moment of ecstasy, he’s transported back to Rome.

He uses the ideas he had picked up from his experience in Japan to build a great bath but soon finds that he’s not been able to implement them with perfection. He wishes he could go back once, but remains unsure about the way to do it.

Meanwhile, he is summoned by consul Lepidus. The consul impressed by his skills asks him to build an open bath outside his house. Keen to find the heat source of a hot spring nearby, he gets into the water but as he dives and rises, he is again transported to Japan.

He explores for a while before enjoying some saké and being transported back. 

He builds the open bath as required by the consul. He keeps on building lavish baths for people based on his chance discoveries. His popularity starts growing.

The news soon reaches Emperor Hadrian. Lucius is tasked with building a private bath for the emperor. Again, accidentally, he finds himself in 2009 in a sanitary ware shop in Japan. Back from his short trip to Japan, with his newly acquired knowledge, he builds a lavish and advanced private bath for the emperor.

Emperor Hadrian asks him to accompany him to Jerusalem where he builds a hot stone spa for the soldiers of Rome. In return, he requests to be given a brief reprieve to meet his wife who’s been waiting for him for three years.

Later, he continues to build grand baths but this creates friction between him and his wife as he continues to ignore her for his work. She finally decides to leave him and go to her parent’s house.

If you had any doubts about the ending, here is a complete breakdown.

Thermae Romae Novae ending explained in detail:

Emperor in trouble

The emperor asks Lucius to build a grand bath to sway favour for Ceionius, the adopted future emperor. The emperor is growing old and he wants Ceionius to handle the throne until the true heir, Marcus Verus is ready to assume power.

Marcus Verus is only 15 years old so Ceionius who’s known to have many problematic shortcomings must handle the throne instead until Marcus grows up. Hence, the emperor requests Lucius for his help to build the grandest bath and get the people on Ceionius’ side.

Trouble for the thermae maker

This time, Lucius travels to future Japan and encounters an amusement park. He plans to take the idea and implement it in Rome hoping to delight the younger generation.

To his surprise, the adults grow a liking for the slides he built. The adults start quarrelling over the slides. However, Ceionius shows some leadership and manages the situation clearing Lucius’ doubts about the emperor’s choice of making him the future heir.

On the other hand, the senators plot a plan to get rid of Lucius Modestus, the man helping the emperor to please the people with his stunning bathhouses. The senate sends him to a place rampant with bandits using a fake order in the name of the emperor.

Lucius builds a spa town

On getting surrounded by bandits, he tells them about the real treasure in front of them and takes them for a bath in a nearby hot spring. Just as he was about to explain more, he slips and falls deep into the water travelling to Japan.

He comes across a spa town at the foot of huge volcanoes. He roams around and explores the many shops, games, and food of the town. He brings back some items from his visit to Rome and then utilizes those to build a huge spa town in Rome.

The bandits open their shops in the town. The senators let go of their plans to dethrone the emperor as they enjoy the baths built by Lucius. The emperor finds himself awed by his achievements of Lucius. Lucius, however, responds by saying that he was doing only what’s asked of him.

The king reveals that he hadn’t asked any such thing from him. This confuses Lucius. Just at this instance, the emperor reveals his reward for Lucius. He has brought back Lucius’ wife Livia realizing that his constant requests damaged the relationship between Lucius and his wife.

Lucius and Livia reunite. She acknowledges the hard work done by Lucius and they kiss each other. The townspeople continue to enjoy and stay happy, thanks to the creations of Lucius Modestus- the Roman thermae architect.

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