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Trese review: An unusual anime that showcases Filipino mythology

Yahoo Lifestyle logo Yahoo Lifestyle 10/6/2021
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Cast: Liza Soberano, Shay Mitchell, Jon Jon Briones, Darren Criss, Manny Jacinto, Dante Basco, Nicole Scherzinger, Lou Diamond Philips, Steve Blum

Language: English and Filipino with various subtitles

Release details: Streaming on Netflix from 11 June

3 out of 5 stars

This review covers all six episodes of Trese.

Set in a Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans, Trese follows the story of detective Alexandra Trese, who is voiced by Liza Soberano (Filipino language) and Shay Mitchell (English language). As Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld composed of malevolent supernatural beings, she begins to uncover a deeper mystery behind everything.

Based on the award-winning Filipino dark fantasy graphic novel of the same title written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo, Trese has been adapted into a six-episode long Netflix original anime series. With only half the length of a typical short Japanese anime series — usually around 12 episodes, Trese is a show you can binge-watch in less than a day.

While it seems like each episode is stand-alone as a different supernatural incident is covered each time, it all starts to link together towards the last episode. In fact, rather than viewing this as a six-episode anime series, it is actually more like a three-hour long movie, especially if you watch them back-to-back.

With Japan at the forefront of the anime industry, it may seem difficult to break the mould and meet expectations of anime. However, Trese stands out with its unique theme of Philippine mythology, giving one a peek at the rich Filipino culture. The magical incantations are also in the Filipino language, which gives more flavours to the series.

Some of the mythical creatures, or Aswang, you can expect to see are Santelmo, a ball of fire that acts as Trese’s ally; Tikbalang, a humanoid with the head and hooves of a horse; and Nuno, a goblin that, in this case, resides in the underground and provides Trese with information.

Although Trese is said to be a horror anime, its horror elements largely stem from the supernatural beings and a couple of gory scenes. Among the mythical creatures that make an appearance, the creepiest must be the Tiyanak, which is a monster in the shape of an innocent baby. To make things worse, it has been given four more legs emerging from its back, much like a spider with a huge baby head and sharp teeth and claws crawling around.

Directed by Jay Oliva (known for directing and storyboarding various Marvel and DC Comics animations) and produced by BASE Entertainment, a studio based in Jakarta and Singapore, Trese presents a whole new perspective of Philippine folklore for the international audience.

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