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