What if humans and the supernatural used to co-exist in Manila? That’s the initial premise of Trese, an animated series on Netflix based on a comics series written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo. I haven’t read the comics but my husband has. And I’m tempted to buy myself a Kindle Edition of the two-book series.
The series centers on the main character, Alexandra Trese, a detective, healer, and warrior who bridges the gap between the world of humans and the world of Filipino mythical creatures. When the police try to solve crimes that turn out weird, they call on Trese to help them.
Set in Metro Manila, Trese and her twin aides, Crispin and Basilio, solve mysteries involving Filipino mythical creatures such as the tikbalang, nuno, aswang, tiyanak, etc. It’s like having a female Constantine being helped by a Commissioner-Gordon-like Captain Guerrero and the twin aides remind you of Men in Black.
I’m not surprised. In an interview/round-table talk, creator Budjette Tan admitted that his original plan was to have Trese as a male character. But since there are many male superheroes, he changed his mind and made it female.
Each episode covers a story around a creature and as we uncover the truth behind the crime, we also learn more about Trese’s mysterious past. Unlike other crime/detective series where each story is episodic, Trese’s episodes are tied into Alexandra’s backstory. One would keep holding on to the question about Trese’s true identity.
Also, the recurring theme of family and balance of power keep the series consistent.
The animation is good in bringing out details of color, action, blood, and gore. The predominantly red and black tones show how the series could be a film noir while it deals with social issues like corruption, police brutality, etc. It’s labeled as a horror anime but the horror element comes from the appearance of these creatures and the blood and gore that comes with killing them.
Aside from featuring familiar sites and buildings, one could sense the Filipino culture by hearing Filipino terms and phrases which the producers intentionally retained.
I watched the Tagalog version and then switched to the English version. The voice acting of Liza Soberano (in Filipino) and Shay Mitchell (in English) is okay with me although I found their voice acting a little bit off in a few areas. Hey, these two ladies are half-Filipinos so I’d excuse them for that.
The series has only six episodes of around thirty minutes each. It is like watching a movie cut into episodes. Thus, binge-watching it would only take a few hours. I always believe that one season is equivalent to at least 13 episodes. Thus, I found wanting more.
Overall, I would rate this as 5 out of 5 stars for bringing out the Filipino talent in the spotlight. This could be an ambitious attempt at bringing Filipino culture to the mainstream media. But I am glad that Netflix took the chance and tagged this project as “a Netflix original”.