Foreign

Netflix’s “Trese” is short, scary and worth the watch

Sorry for missing last week! Things have been pretty busy on my end with job hunting and my YouTube channel. I am not trying to neglect this blog at all – it’s just…sometimes, there’s nothing worth talking about. At least from my perspective.

And the format I’ve been doing in most of my reviews doesn’t work for them all – hence why the Luca review was formatted like my older reviews. And I may switch back and forth depending on how much I have to say.

Like I don’t have a lot to say about Trese but I still want to discuss it.

I always love seeing what countries without large animation studios put out – and while Trese was produced by Netflix – it still has a very distinct Filipino flavor thanks to its mostly Filipino production team.

It’s important that a series like Trese – with its focus on Filipino mythology and urban legends – exists. Y’know, because the production actually involved people from the culture, so the show is accurate and they didn’t make any stupid mistakes like naming their first Filipino-American character the slang word for “genitals” like Marvel did.

The series based on the Filipino komik of the same name follows Alexandra Trese – a healer-warrior, of sorts, who protects the human world from the supernatural. After she is called in to investigate the murder of a ghost (don’t ask), she finds that there is something much bigger going on – and of course, she is the only one who can stop it.

Despite its gruesomeness – the series overall focuses on the themes of family and duty

Though the fight scenes occasionally left something to be desired – I thought the art style and animation for Trese were pretty cool. The style is ripped directly from the comic book, a choice I always approve of: it’s dark, gritty, and lived in.

I was reminded a lot of Batman: The Animated Series for some reason. I did think the animation itself was a bit off at times – like it took too long for characters to move between frames or it wasn’t very fluid – but that seemed to be more of a stylistic choice rather than an actual issue with the animation.

It just wasn’t totally my taste – but I respect it.

I knew absolutely nothing about Filipino mythology before watching this show. Literally nothing. I didn’t expect this show to educate me on the nuances – but it showed me the wide range of beings that exist like Nuno, the tikbalang, the elementals, and of course, the god Datu Talagbusao,

It was genuinely interesting.

I love learning about new cultures and mythologies rather than just the same tired Greek/Roman, Norse, and Egyptian myths – though I do have a special place in my heart for Egyptology…Yes, I was one of those kids…But it’s good to have something new. And with the ending revealing that other mythologies exist in this world – in this case, a Chinese vampire, a jiangshi- I’m very excited to see where the show goes next, even if I didn’t totally fall in love with the main character

Alexandra wasn’t a hugely compelling character to me – she didn’t seem to be too bothered by the fact that her father lied to her about her twin’s actual fate. Like the story doesn’t spend a lot of time on this revelation at all.

And it bothered me.

She’s this relatively emotionless person – because she has to be – she has a tough job that she has to do (mostly) alone. But when her view of the world is shown to be false – she takes it pretty well.

She doesn’t curse her father or throw away the knife containing her sister’s ashes (or soul?), It just seems like an odd choice.

I found the twins (known also as the Kambal_ to be more engaging characters. Since they have to deal with their father being an evil war god who wants to devour them and take over the world. They get some more character development.

But mostly they added a sense of humor and light-heartedness to the grim show. Plus – they were pretty cute. What can I say? I have a thing for a handsome badass in a suit.

 Perhaps a second season will add more to Alexandra’s personality.

But also, I was left with a lot of questions after the show ended its very short 6-episode run. Some of which, obviously, are going to be answered in further seasons – there was one mystery that I was surprised didn’t get touched at all…What happened to Alexandra’s other siblings?

One huge aspect of the show is that she is the sixth child of a sixth child – and with her twin sister deceased – she has four other siblings. Are they part of the family business in any way? If not, why? If so, where are they?

Why didn’t they come up in discussion? A huge theme of the show is family – so what about the rest of her family?! I’m sure this is something that will be discussed in the future — it just was an odd choice in my mind.

I’m always fascinated by these stories in which a certain family is designated the “protector” of the world – how it works when there are multiple children. 

In American Dragon: Jake Long – god, that show is old – Jake is the eldest child and therefore the one who was assigned the duty of the “American Dragon.” In The Life and Times of Juniper Lee – Juniper’s grandmother chose her to inherit the powers of the Te Xuan Ze.

But there’s not really a magical veil at play here – anyone can see the monsters and being the sixth child of a sixth child is never mentioned as a quality the protector must have in this world.

So – I gotta wonder. Aside from the prophecy, why did her father only train his youngest daughter?

Honestly, I can’t blame the showrunners for this. The answer is (probably) in the comics and It likely wasn’t their choice to only have six episodes. There’s not a lot you can do in that time frame. So you gotta cut out the fat – and that detail just wasn’t important enough to make it in.

That’s my biggest complaint, to be honest: this show was too short. It could have used a lot more episodes. But otherwise, it really brought this world’s version of Manila to life.

And that’s the scoop!

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Grade: B –

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Year of release: 2021

Length 6 episodes: 25-33 minutes

Creators: Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo

Writers: Zig Marasigan, Mihk Vergara, Tanya YusonDirectors: Jay Oliva, Tim Divar, David Hartman, Mel Zwyer

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