REVIEW: ‘Trese’ Builds an Expansive World

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Trese is the latest Netflix Original Anime based on the award-winning Filipino komik written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by KaJO Baldisimo. The series is a supernatural horror story that uses Filipino folklore, tying it all together in a crime thriller package. Both Tan and Baldismo are the series showrunners with Filipino American Jay Oliva serving as the series’ Executive Director and is written by Tanya Yuson, Zig Marasigan, Mihk Vergara. When it comes to adapting source material, Netflix has been knocking it out of the park, especially when it comes to animation. With Trese, the platform is introducing viewers to the world of Filipino komiks, and to be honest, it’s a great first impression.

Set in Manila, Trese’s world is one where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans. Ghosts commit crimes and creatures hold roundtable meetings. In this world, detective Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld composed of malevolent supernatural beings. This horror Netflix Original Anime series is based on the Trese is voiced by Liza Soberano in the Filipino language version and Shay Mitchell in the English language version with Darren Criss, Manny Jacinto, Dante Basco, Nicole Scherzinger, Lou Diamond Philips, and Steve Blum rounding out the series English dub cast.

Now, while Trese is classified as a Netflix Anime, its aesthetic is more in line with Western animations like the Jackie Chan Adventures than the typical Japanese animation style that we’ve come to know the medium as. That said, this dark supernatural series is filled with gore but it never lets it overshadow the storytelling. In fact, the series builds out an extensive world and does so by weaving mythology into every element of its storytelling. The series achieves a balance of hard-boiled detective storytelling beats, horrific imagery, and stunningly animated mythological gods and creatures. In fact, while the series is horror in the strongest sense of the word, Trese also has elements of whimsy to it, albeit dark.

When it comes to our lead, Alexandra Trese is tough. She’s been through trauma that has shaped her, and while she is deeply connected to magic in the world around her there is a banal quality to it. Her stark demeanor and power is both a strength and a hindrance as the series goes on but while Trese is a strong lead for her titular series, it’s the connections that she builds with her partners that are the real heart of the series. More specifically, it’s the relationships in Trese that make it more than just a gory series.

That said, the strongest part of Trese is the care with which the world is built. Whether you know the mythology being referenced or don’t, the world of the series is easy to immerse yourself in and even easier to fall in love with. As a whole, the expansive world that the series has built is filled with paths to go down if season two is greenlit. Given that the komik has three physical volumes published by ABLAZE Publishing, there is more content out there to be adapted. And with the series creators working as showrunners as well, a path forward is there. I for one, hope that Netflix takes it.

While I love the series, it isn’t perfect. But that has nothing to do with the story and everything to do with small moments where the animation seems to miss frames, particularly in action sequences. That said, the character designs are breathtaking, and, when compared to the source material, it brings it to life in both a faithful and innovative way.

Overall, Trese is worth the watch because of its extensive worldbuilding, strong relationships, and a story that pushes large mythological themes and more intimate ones as well.

Trese is streaming exclusively on Netflix.

Trese
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Overall, Trese is worth the watch because of its extensive worldbuilding, strong relationships, and a story that pushes large mythological themes and more intimate ones as well.