This Week: Trese (THAT Pilipino Anime)
Ever wondered what Pilipino anime exists on Netflix? Unless you’re a Pilipino looking, probably not. But for those who are looking for an anime or anime-esque type of series similar to Netflix’s Castlevania, Yasuke, and Blood+, Trese has everything that these have: gore, magic, whodunit, fights, and demons.
Trese focuses on Alexandra Trese, a woman investigates supernatural crimes that the police don’t understand, each crime leading to a piece of a bigger plot against humanity. When souls aren’t delivered to the underworld, Alexandra is called on to find the souls and discover who or what is keeping the souls from going to the underworld. Though Alexandra is a human with magical abilities, she has two demigods and several demon clans at her beck and call. As Alexandra solves more crimes and a sinister plot becomes unraveled, the other humans in Alexandra’s life try to improve their own lives while protecting others.
While Trese feels similar to the DC animated movies, Trese leans heavily into its theme of family. Alexandra lost her mother at a young age and was raised with two demigod children. Her father, the appointed lakkan and head of The Council, established the Accords to keep humanity and the supernatural world in balance. Throughout the series, the senior Trese appears in flashbacks, constantly reminding Alexandra about their family. The flashbacks also serve for the viewers to see all of the present characters evolve and place a thumb on what split the supernatural clans between the Accords and their own demonic vices.
Watching Trese has made me realize how much Pilipino folklore and mythology I actually know. Oh, I’m Pilipina and Black, though, looking at me, you wouldn’t guess that. I didn’t grow up speaking Tagalog and when I took Tagalog in college, I mixed up my mother’s dialect with Tagalog (how embarrassing for me and confusing for my ginoong). I took three Tagalog classes and learned more about my mother and her culture by translating Pilipino stories about aswang, sigbin, and mungkukulam. That’s why Trese has a special place in my heart. Aswang, sigbin, and other Pilipino mythical creatures are cornerstones of this anime, and even the English dub of this anime uses Tagalog. I’m really happy to find that Pilipina-American Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars), the English voice behind Alexandra, has a good grasp of Tagalog to pull off those scenes.
If you’re like me and like the so-called good-versus-evil scenarios, Americanized animations, and a good, twisted story, Trese is the Pilipino anime series for you.