Trese: A Solid Supernatural Detective Show from the Philippines – Netflix Review

What if you were the chosen one but also just sick of all this bullsh*t?

If there is one massive positive that Netflix has had on media, it’s that they’ve given a lot of creative people from countries that don’t usually get international distribution a platform (also South Korea, which is starting to get a lot more distribution, thankfully). This show combines the mythology and social setting of the Philippines with the Anime-inspired look that Netflix has been going for with many of its original series. It’s nice to start exploring other mythologies rather than just importing them into a Western setting or trying to rehash European vampires for the 3000th time. 

Some of the visuals are pretty universal, though.

At a glance, the show has some elements of supernatural detective series like a blend of Constantine and Supernatural, with a touch of the Dresden Files books. Alexandra Trese (Shay Mitchell/Liza Soberano) is the last survivor of a line of “Trese,” which are people who guard the balance between the supernatural world and the human one. There are laws about what can and can’t be done to humans, but, naturally, a lot of the evil spirits would prefer to just ignore those and declare war. She’s got enough magical ability for it to be useful, but not enough that guns aren’t usually a quicker solution. Her assistants and bodyguards are the Kambal (Twins), Crispin and Basilio (Griffin Puatu/Simon de la Cruz). They both often wear creepy happy and sad face masks, which makes it even funnier that they’re the good guys. Trese is an official consultant for the police, as the existence of magic seems to be more of an “open secret” in the area. Her main contact is captain Guerrero (Matt Yang King/Apollo Abraham), who is smart enough to usually bring an RPG and a shotgun when dealing with the supernatural, as opposed to the usual police consultant who tries to play by the rules in shows like this.

Again, the twins are the good guys.

The characters are pretty well written and designed in this show, particularly Trese herself (the badass longcoat she wears is a blend of Eastern and Western styles and seems reasonably functional). The monsters are really well done, often being cartoonish when non-threatening and then disturbing when they decide to turn it on. An exception are the spiders with baby heads, which are creepy no matter what they’re doing. Between this and 30 Monedas I’m beginning to think that a lot of countries have latched onto “baby with a spider body” as the go-to creepiest thing out there and I’m not sure they’re wrong. 

Also more “splitting people vertically.”

The mythology the show explores is interesting, particularly when you start to get a feel for how the Philippines treats their myths. There is no central “Phillipines Mythology,” by which I mean there are a lot of smaller groups that each hold their own beliefs and they often are directly conflicting. This is part of why the evil spirits in the show, often just called the Aswang, are shapeshifters that can serve as either vampires, zombies, ghouls, or whatever other part the plot requires. Since each ethnic group viewed them a little differently, they can be almost anything that exists to hurt others. There are, naturally, also demigods and more powerful beings that can pose threats as well, and they’re usually more tied to one particular group than to the country as a whole.

Yeah, this… this is a thing.

Overall, solid show. Give it a shot if you like supernatural detective series.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Anime Mini-Review – Beastars: Zootopia, but For Adults

Ah, high school, with the drama, the murders, the random eating of classmates…

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s a world of anthropomorphic animals who have evolved enough to create legal systems and pocket watches, but not enough for the carnivores not to instinctively desire to prey on herbivores. Legoshi (Chikahiro Kobayashi/Jonah Scott) is a gray wolf who attends the Cherryton Academy. Generally quiet, he tries to suppress his carnivore instincts to bond with herbivore classmates, who he works with in the theater club. One night, an herbivore associate of his, Tem the alpaca (Takeo Otsuka/Kyle McCarley), is brutally murdered, leading to a wave of distrust between carnivores and herbivores throughout the school. One night, Legoshi’s instincts overtake him and he finds himself attacking a white dwarf rabbit. He stops himself, but when he later encounters the rabbit, named Haru (Sayaka Senbongi/Lara Jill Miller), he finds himself attracted to her. Unfortunately, his quiet personality and her promiscuous nature are as opposed as their natural roles. Additionally, Haru is in love with the red deer Louis (Yuki Ono/Griffin Puatu), the Star Performer at the academy. Human relationships, it seems, are even more complicated when mixed with animal ones.

Seating alone is a challenge.

END SUMMARY

I admit to watching this show because Netflix recommended it and I’m slightly concerned about what the hell I watched to create that algorithm. I’m guessing it was Zootopia and Sex Education, because that’s kind of the vibe I get from this show, but with a lot more drama than comedy. It’s like this show is insisting that you take this premise completely seriously, from the dialogue to the animation, and not consider that it’s kind of inherently ridiculous. Unlike some shows like Aggretsuko, these animals are not just surrogates for people, meaning that you’re trying to show how a high school would work with half of the class wanting to eat the rest of them (non-sexually… or maybe sexually too). 

Metaphors ahoy.

Honestly, I got into this show as it went on. A lot of what kept my interest is that the world here is so inherently different than most others. We find out that there are huge issues in balancing a society where everyone is sentient, but also still bound by their instincts. Outside of the academy, most of society is fairly segregated because of the constant fear that predators will eat their neighbors. While there are work-arounds in place for how predators get their meat, that doesn’t seem to sate everyone, particularly criminals. While interspecies relationships don’t appear to be too forbidden, there appears to be a taboo in predator/prey couples. The worldbuilding is naturally interesting, because no human society can really be compared to this one, even if there are similarities.

The Lions club here is WAY different than the US.

The main characters are pretty interesting, too. Legoshi lives in fear of his own instincts, to the point where he worries that he might be a killer and not even realize it. This leads him to keep people at a distance. I also like that he’s on the stage crew of the theater, because that allows him to watch the drama play out without having to be the focus of it, something that speaks to his character. Haru, on the other hand, is ostracized due to her brazen sexuality. Many women hate her because their boyfriends either slept with her or want to, but she never apologizes for it. Since she is naturally smaller than almost anyone else, due to being a dwarf rabbit, she feels a constant state of vulnerability that she fights through her promiscuity. It’s an interesting way to give a character a trait associated with rabbits but also tie it in with human psychology.

Louis is a stereotypical lead actor, probably to compensate for being prey.

Overall, I enjoyed the series, honestly. It’s slow, but if you’re an anime fan it’s probably worth a try. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.