‘Trese’: Action-Packed Series Rife With Filipino Folklore Monsters

Image: Netflix.com
Trese, a brand-new Netflix animated series from the Philippines, has fast-paced action, good animation, a strong female lead, and interesting monsters.

I binge-watched all six episodes in one sitting. There are a few plot holes, but I enjoyed Season 1 and I can’t wait for Season 2.

There is a lot of bloodshed and gore, so you may not want your young children watching this.

Netflix released the series June 10 in the United States. It is based on popular Filipino comic books featuring Alexandra Trese, a detective who investigates supernatural crimes.

In the Netflix series, Trese is a lakan, an enforcer of peace accords between supernatural beings and humans. The police consult her on crimes that have a paranormal angle.

Image: Netflix.com
The series starts with her being called in on a case where a subway car is found blood-splattered and its passengers missing. She also looks into the murder of a ghost who was the one-time mistress of the mayor of Manila. During her investigations, she discovers a sinister connection between these seemingly unrelated incidents.

The series’ art style is similar to the one in the D.C. cinematic universe. The detailed backgrounds and stills really transport you to the streets and slums of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

The voice acting also is good. The actors include names that an American audience may recognize, including actor Lou Diamond Phillips, and singer and television personality Nicole Scherzinger.

The English language version of the series manages to keep its Filipino flavor through the theme music. It also retains snatches of the Filipino language in the dialogue.

As a fan of Southeast Asian folklore, what I particularly liked was the reimagining of the folklore creatures themselves. For example, the aswang are shown as different tribes of bloodthirsty creatures who break the peace treaties by eating people. The members of one tribe look like evil elves; the other tribe is populated by Nosferatu-like beings.

In Filipino culture, the aswang is a catch-all term for fearsome shape-shifting monsters that includes werebeasts (usually cats, dogs, or giant birds), vampires, ghouls and witches. Aswangs consume human flesh and blood. They take on human form during the day and stalk their prey at night.

The series also includes the:

  • White Lady of Balete Drive: according to the urban legend, Balete Drive in Quezon City is haunted by a woman who was raped and murdered, and her body dumped in the area
  • Tiyanak: a vampiric monster that takes the form of a baby or toddler
  • Tikbalang: a half-horse, half-human creature that lurks in the mountains
  • Babaylan: a female shaman who can communicate with the dead, heal the sick and ward off evil spirits

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