Directed by Jay Oliva (known for steering and storyboarding numerous Marvel and DC Comics animations) and created by BASE Entertainment, a studio primarily based in Jakarta and Singapore, Trese presents a fully new perspective of Philippine folklore for the international audience. Netflix’s animated show Trese hits rock bottom running with its portrayal of a Tikbalang, a Filipino folklore figure with both horse and human physical features. The show’s modern take on a drag race, that roars through the streets of Manila, looks like a scene out of a Fast and Furious movie. However, it conjointly encapsulates the mischievous, wild character of the Tikbalang without compromising its original myths, which is stunning, considering the series’ up-to-date lens. The Tikbalang, like the different legendary beings in Trese, are treated with the utmost respect. Their stories are framed to be accessible to audiences around the globe. Portrayals of folklore and mythological figures from Roman, Greek, and Egyptian pantheons within the West have been popularized by the visual and print media for years, however, Filipino folklore has never hit the United States in an exceedingly kind like Trese.
Throughout the series, Alexandra and therefore the kambal (twins) – her two supernaturally powered assistants Crispin and Basilio – work with a Manila police division to trace down the offensive criminals and solve cases. As the series progresses, flashbacks reveal the history of her family, how she became the fabled mandirigma babaylan (loosely translated as “warrior shaman”) prophesied by seers, and therefore the way her father’s exploits because the previous help leave her in an awful predicament.
The series is charming, with compelling Filipino folklore storytelling framed by supernatural criminal investigations. Each investigation works in bicycle-built-for-two with a central throughline that blends into the shadows of every episode till it’s finally brought into full daylight. Character development for Trese and others creeps in because the stakes run apocalyptically high. Trese is a sturdy leader, a feminine protagonist whose intensity and command of her role between and each world bring an uncommon sense of seriousness and resolve.
When it involves our lead, Alexandra Trese is tough. She’s been through trauma that has formed her, and whereas she is deeply connected to magic in the world around her there’s a banal quality to that. Her stark conduct and power are both a strength and a hindrance because the series goes on however whereas Trese is a sturdy lead for her titular series, it’s the connections that she builds together with her partners that are the important heart of the series. More specifically, it’s the relationships in Trese that build it over simply a gory series.
Using aspects of Filipino culture with varying degrees of subtlety, Trese balances moments of joy with necessary violence, while not defaulting to stereotypes. The narrative looks deep into Filipino folklore with integrity and provides Filipino viewers an opportunity to appear on the far side of the evils they were raised to fear whereas educating different viewers regarding supernatural traditions from around the world. At an equivalent time, the show emphasizes that not every evil is supernatural. This is a show created by Filipinos for Filipinos, but its creators are more than willing to share their culture with the world — if it dares to steer into the darkness.
Final Score – [8/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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