Netflix Trese Review – Definitely Worth the Hype
The much-hyped Trese animated series has already dropped on Netflix and I’m here to give you an idea on whether its worth the time or a big skip. Here’s my Netflix Trese review which features the voices of Shay Mitchell and Liza Soberano!
Trese is an animated adaptation of a series by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo and shows the exploits of Manila’s babaylan or lakan Alexandra Trese who keeos the balance between the workd of humans and the world of the supernatural. The series was directed by Jay Oliva (Justice League Throne of Atlantis, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) and written by Mihk Vergara and Tanya Yuson.
The animation is pretty awesome. They managed to find a way to blend the art style from the comics together with modern sensibilities and modern aesthetics. Honestly there were some moments where ai’m reminded of animated series like Men in Black the animated series with the way the backgrounds were done. Then the action scenes also reminded me of Justice League Dark Apokolips War in terms of savagery and brutality. Then to top it all off, you also get A LOT of Filipino vibes from the series like a Mang Inasal logo here or a Tondo there.
The series also doesn’t shy away from focusing on poverty here in the Philippines. Like there was a couple of parts in the series where they really do a dive into how the urban poor are. I was half assuming they’d try to downplay that in “Trese” but no. The production team definitely took everything from the book by heart.
Narrative and Story Structure
I also liked how they structured the entire series. We have a collection of several cases that are intertwined with a main conflict, one that shatters everything that the Treses hold dear. But at the same time, by the end of the season, we’re seeing a stronger, toughter Alexandra. There are also a LOT of flashbacks in the different episodes; obviously they also came from further volumes of the title. This makes this more than just an adaptation of the earlier books. Pretty sweet deal.
The flashbacks were also written in such a way that viewers get hooked, waiting for the next one to see how that story in the past further moves the story or shed more light in the current situation such as the case of Trese’s partners, the Kambal. I won’t spoil though so that’s the end of the matter.
The dialogue and script worked on by Tanya Yuson and Mihk Vergara are pretty strong. I recognize most of the lines but they had a bigger duty of expanding the dialogues from the book into the series. Small nuances like the Kambal flirting with the wind people and the small dialogue reactions make for a more compelling watch.
You’ll love the character designs and adaptation here whether its seeing the Kambals kicking ass or the Tikbalangs like Maliksi to even the designs on guys like Nuno. Everything feels Filipino without alienating other cultures. For the international audience, they still look great and terrifying and something that came from a Japanese anime. Also it really helped that Jay Oliva’s past works in animation showed up here. I loved how awful and traumatizing “Justice League Dark” was especially the climax and it kind of rubbed off in this series.
Voice from the Dark
The voice work was the subject of much talk amongst the Trese fans and the Filipino geek community. So let me break this down real quick. Most of the episodes in the Trese Filipino dub work extremely well. There were several times where Soberano’s Trese voice did an awesome job especially when it comes incantations and just doing exposition. She does elevate the action scenes but I find it lacking from time to time. There’s also something missing in her performance. A certain twang in her Filipino delivery. But as it stands, the finished product was great. Hopefully when Trese season 2 rolls by, we get to see a lot more from the Kapamilya actress and the girl who was once upon a time slated to become Darna.
The same thing can be said with Shay Mitchell‘s take on our dear warrior-healer-Lakan. For an American and international audience, its a good performance. Her incantations were hit or miss though but that’s something that people outside the PH would notice or even care about.
Surprises and World Building
Now you’ll know what happens for the entire series as early as episode 1 but for the new viewers and first timers in the world of the supernatural would probably have to a fun time with the surprises and twists. I won’t spoil surprises but I am warning you that there are a lot.
There’s a strong world building element in the series and even spin-off potential. Here’s the thing, Trese isn’t a monthly comic book that comes out on a schedule. Baldisimo and Tan work on a book together and release it as a volume. Think an entire manga volume with no chapters being released or serialized. That’s the whole schtick for Trese’s publishing. Seeing these fantastic creatures and characters and barely dipping fans into the Trese family, you’d probably find yourself asking what are their exploits in the past? Where are the other Trese siblings? And then you realize that there’s a big world that needs to be animated (or fleshed out) and hopefully Netflix would understand that.
That one bad thing
If there’s any real big issue with the story is that the ending became one big exposition dump. It’s the typical villain monologue or that “The Devil Tempting Jesus” thing. I know that its in the book, but I’m pretty sure it could have been better. But it doesn’t really harm the overall product. I dunno, just felt very formulaic. All the episodes set such high stakes and higher expectations that the ending felt weaker.
With that minor flaw and some misses with the voice work here and there. I’d still give Trese a perfect score. Its a good series based on a good book and it also gets high marks because it helps put Filipino comic book content in the map. Hopefully, this paves the way for other content getting adapted and introduced to a wider audience!