I am a fan of Trese, a Filipino horror/crime graphic novel created by writer Budjette Tan and artist KaJO Baldisimo. I have been the day I discovered the graphic novel at the Free Comic Book Day – Setting the Record in 2013. I was a little late because the graphic novel saw print in 2005.
After reading Trese Book 6: High Tide at Midnight, I had a sudden realisation. I already knew how good the story and the characters are. I mean, I read all the released books, even Trese: Stories from the Diabolical Volume 1 and The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo by Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo, David Hontiveros, Bow Guerrero, and Mervin Malonzo. These works prove how interesting Filipino folklore is. With the kind of story, format as well as characters, Trese shows immense potential.
That is why whenever I get the chance, I always mention Trese to family, friends and colleagues. I even wrote a blog post in 2018 entitled Children’s Books and YA Novels That Should Be Developed into Netflix Series. Of course, Trese is on the list. So when I received news that an animated Trese series for Netflix is being developed, I was overjoyed.
What is Trese? Foul play. Magic spells. Supernatural criminals. When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese. She is the sixth child of the sixth child, the child of paradox and possibilities. She is, so to speak, the city’s warrior and the city’s healer, a mandirigmang-babaylan.
Netflix’s Trese premiered on June 11. But on June 10 at 11:47 PM, Netflix Philippines’ Facebook page had a special countdown event called Trese Before Midnight hosted by Atom Araullo and Nikki Veron Cruz (She cosplayed Alexandra Trese before, and I love it!).
Liza Soberano, who voiced Alexandra Trese in the series’ Filipino language version, had a special guest appearance. Of course, the executive producer, director and showrunner Jay Oliva, writer and executive producer Tanya Yuson, and “Trese” graphic novel creators Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo graced the countdown event. The audience also enjoyed a performance by the Filipino band UDD (formerly Up Dharma Down), where they played the official soundtrack of the series titled “Paagi.”
After which, a countdown was initiated but cut off quickly as the aswang hacked the event. Good thing Trese was there, and that officially marked the beginning of the animated series.
The Trese animated series season one is composed of six episodes. As a reader, this was not enough for me. It would have been nice to have 13, but then, the number six does have quite a significance in the Treseverse. Now, as a viewer, six episodes is a safe number.
A little side notes: The moment I read the news that the animated series will release in 2021, I did not read or watch any Trese series-related material. But I share these online.
So when I hit play on Netflix, I was caught off guard. I was surprised by how detailed and accurate the MRT scene was in this episode. But that was just the intro. At mark 1:28, the tense theme music (as per the subtitle) that played along with the title sequence gave me goosebumps.
The series of art presented in every shot slowly welcomes us to THE WORLD OF TRESE. It was dark, bloody and shrouded in mystery which radiated through season one. Yes, like the graphic novel, the animated series did not fall short on those elements. So expect a non-stop mystery and action as different supernatural crime and iconic Philippine mythical creatures are in every episode.
Moreover, the series did not sugarcoat the pain and suffering of the characters, especially Alexandra and the Kambal (Crispin & Basilio). Which reminds me, I appreciate the flashbacks.
In this season, the audience met Alexandra, the Kambal, Hank, Alexandra’s parents and a few supernatural creatures. Those interjected scenes gave the audience an idea of how the Team Trese, at present, intertwined with creatures of Philippine folklore they encounter in every investigation.
And just like Trese’s job to keep the balance between the two worlds, the series also had some light moments in the form of the Kambal (Crispin & Basilio) and, of course, the trusted bartender of The Diabolical, Hank.
Novel vs Series
Now let’s move to the story. Is there a difference between the graphic novel and the animated series? A big YES, BUT Netflix’s Trese stayed true to the graphic novel.
The animated series writers Zig Marasigan and Mihk Vergara mentioned in the Netflix special, Trese After Dark that they kept the spirit of what the creators originally set as they translate it to a different medium. They took all the clues from the book and moulded it suitable for the animated series.
Fans of works adapted into films or series know that there will always be a difference. Some may agree with the changes, but there will always be people who will be protective.
As a fan, I do not mind the slight changes. I mentioned way back that I studied film in college. I understand the animated series writers decision to fill the gaps based on the clues in the books. They did a great job in shaping the characters as they deem fit.
Trese is, after all, a Filipino graphic novel that started publication in 2005 and adapted into an animated series that is now streaming on Netflix, a large streaming platform. A little tweaking is needed to appeal more to the audience of today.
At the time of writing, there is no news of a second season yet. But I hope that Netflix officially gives the green light soon with more episodes as the Treseverse is vast. I assure you, the characters you met in season one are not the only ones you want to meet. The stories you’ve seen aren’t the only ones you want to know. We need more than six.