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Trese

Entry updated 21 June 2021. Tagged: TV.

Philippine/Singapore/Malaysian/US animated online tv series (2021-current). Lex + Otis, Tiger Animation. Based on the Comic by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. Directors include David Hartman and Jay Oliva. Written by Zig Marasigan, Mihk Vergara and Tanya Yuson. Voice cast include Apollo Abraham, Eric Bauza, Simon dela Cruz, Matthew Yang King, Shay Mitchell, Griffin Puatu, Liza Soberano and Christian Verlarde. Six 25- to 34-minute episodes.

Following in her father's footsteps, private detective Alexandra Trese (Filipino dub: Soberano / English dub: Mitchell) assists Captain Guerrero (Abraham/King) of the Manila police whenever his investigations involve Supernatural Creatures (see Crime and Punishment). Trese has two half-human bodyguards, the twins Crispin and Basilio (both voiced by Cruz/Puatu), plus an informant, Nuno (Verlande/Bauza), a gremlin-like earth elemental who lives under a manhole cover in the sewers. Attired in a stylish black trenchcoat, Trese is a skilled fighter, a Magic user and the wielder of a kris containing the soul of her twin sister, who died at birth.

Trese confronts members of Manila's supernatural underworld and their human allies: the former are Monsters from the darker end of Philippine folklore (see Mythology), whose activities including harvesting and selling human body parts. Though early episodes have a case-of-the-week format, Trese is warned that something big is brewing. The Accord set up by her father between the supernatural tribes, and with humans, comes undone: suicide bombers wreak havoc in Manila as its ex-Mayor, imprisoned in the first episode, allies himself with – surprisingly – Nuno. Though defeated by Trese and the twins, they prove only a front for the main antagonist, Talagbusao – a War god (see Gods and Demons) and the twins' father – who wants to destroy and remake the world, as he has done before. He explains Trese is destined to choose between the Underworld and the World of Men – "to preside over one and destroy the other" – and reveals a terrible secret about her father and sister. However, Trese succeeds in exiling Talagbusao to another Dimension, though the final scene reveals that another creature seeks her.

Though Captain Guerrero is honest, Manila's police brutality and political corruption is touched upon. As often in Urban Fantasy [for this and Occult Detective below see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], spirits and Technology interact in Technofantasy mode: a fire elemental can be summoned through a mobile phone; an emissary of Ibu, goddess of the underworld, uses Underground trains to convey dead souls (see Eschatology); a ghost is a Computer hacker. Similarly, there are nods to Urban Legends – a corpse's eye can be made to reveal its last image.

An example of the Occult Detective genre, the original comic was influenced by Hellblazer (1988-2013; 2019-2020; vt John Constantine, Hellblazer), initially created by Alan Moore and Stephen R Bissette, and its DC Universe (see DC Comics) reworking Constantine (2013-current), as well as Batman and The X-Files (1993-2002; 2016-2018). First streamed in the USA, then the following day in the Philippines, the show's dialogue (in the English dub at least) can be a little Clichéd at times, but otherwise this is an entertaining and imaginative Horror series. [SP]

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