Netflix has debuted the trailer for their upcoming exclusive animated series titled Trese. Set in Manila, Philippines, Trese offers a different approach to the supernatural detective trope that has surged in popularity in recent years, thanks to comic, TV, and movie properties following a similar template.
But what makes Netflix’s Trese stand from the rest? We take a look at the nitty gritty details of the of the animated series's comic book inspiration and get insight from the horse’s mouth (or should that be Tikbalang’s mouth?) itself. Read on to find out more!
Who and What is Trese?
When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.
So goes the tagline for the Trese comic book. Created in 2005 by writer Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, Trese (literally ‘thirteen’) is a supernatural horror and crime themed series, with the title referring to the main character’s family name. The main protagonist is Alexandra Trese, one of the inheritors of a family line that monitors and investigates activities involving creatures of folklore and myth. These include an assortment of the usual ghosts and elementals, but also ones that are specific to the Philippine culture and history. On the surface, it is a detective or police procedural series with a supernatural twist, but the unusual flavor of Filipino culture gives Trese a distinctive spin.
Alexandra is primarily assisted by twin entities called the Kambal, who are the bastard offspring of a demigod of war. Other supporting characters include Alexandra’s extended family, such as her brothers and close friends ranging from a Nuno (a gnomish creature) that makes his home in a sewer to a Tikbalang (a horse-headed humanoid) living on the penthouse of a high-rise building. When not involved in the crimes and underground politics of the supernatural community, she manages her bar, The Diabolical.
Comparisons of the Trese comic book can be made to other works such as DC’s Hellblazer and its lead, John Constantine. Other properties that have a similar vibe and basic premise include the TV series Angel, Grimm, Supernatural, and The X-Files. Another common comparison is with Batman, though with a more occult atmosphere and grittier violence. And the sociopolitical plays among the creatures of the night have a not uncommon resemblance to White Wolf’s World of Darkness.
But beyond the surface similarities, Trese creates a voice unique of its own. Mining the interesting and rich occult history of the Philippines, as well as current events, creators Tan and Baldisimo have carved out a world that is haunting and horrific, yet enchanting and wondrous. Fans both local and international, have flocked to the Trese comic book. The series, originally intended to have only 13 issues, is now on its seventh volume. It has won awards and accolades. And the property has been picked up by Netflix for a full season animated series.
Trese on Netflix
Trese, as a multimedia property, had been shopped to different productions locally and internationally for a number of years, but nothing came to fruition immediately. However, BASE Entertainment picked up the reins of pitching the comic and successfully negotiated a series for Netflix. The production would later pick up animated film producer and director Jay Oliva to helm the project, with Lex + Otis Studios handling the technical production. Oliva is no stranger to comic book adaptations, having had a hand with animated films for both Marvel and DC Comics.
On November 8, 2018, Trese was showcased along with other upcoming projects on the See What’s Next: Asia reel presentation held at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The Trese anime would be released in 2021, for a total of 6 episodes. The first season will derive from stories depicted in the first 3 volumes of the comic book run.
With the release of the trailer on May 21, 2021, the official global release date of the animated series has been set on June 11 of the same year. Netflix also released an official synopsis of the series:
In Manila, where dark supernatural forces pervade the criminal underworld, it’s up to Alexandra Trese to keep the peace — but there’s a storm brewing.
The Netflix Trese Trailer features key scenes from the upcoming episodes and has been dubbed in multiple languages, with separate voice casts for each major regional distribution. The American and Filipino voice actors for Alexandra Trese will be Shay Mitchell and Liza Soberano, respectively. The American voice cast will also include Dante Basco (Hook, Avatar: The Last Airbender), Darren Criss (Superman: Man of Tomorrow), Jon Jon Briones (Ratched), Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Manny Jacinto (The Good Place), and Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls, Moana).
From the Mouth of Madness
Xfire was able to secure Trese creator and LEGO Creative Director, Budjette Tan from his busy schedule for an exclusive short interview. Tan is ecstatic about the Netflix Trese animated series and graciously shared his thoughts on the landmark development, as well as his hopes for the future of other content from the Philippine Comics creators being showcased to the international market.
What are your thoughts on the Trese adaptation?
I don't think I can find the right words to say how excited and happy we are that it has been adapted as an anime for Netflix! Now more people will get to know about our magical, mythical Manila and the gods and creatures of Philippine folklore!
What can you say about other Filipino properties breaking in to the international scene?
I do hope this sparks the interest from more foreign and local studios and publishers to publish and produce more Pinoy comic book stories!
With nearly a century of Filipino comic books (called ‘komiks’) to mine material from, there is certainly a wealth of content for enterprising productions to dive into. Many creators, including famed writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Good Omens, American Gods), consider it as a vast untapped wellspring waiting to be explored.
I really LOVE the myths and monsters of the Philippines. But you also have many terrific writers there who can do a better job of telling those stories than I can. https://t.co/Igp3x3vtIR
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) August 7, 2018
Trese After Dark
Although no immediate announcements for a second season have been made, confidence among fans is high that the Trese series will prove to be popular enough to warrant a follow-up.
Headed by showrunner Jay Oliva and produced by BASE Entertainment, the Trese animated series will see the entire six-episode first season released only on the Netflix streaming service the same day, June 11, 2021.