Trese: A Flawed but Promising Start

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Netflix continues to land interesting new animated series that draw on stories from the past. From Dracula in Castlevania to the Greek gods in Blood of Zeus, Netflix has provided viewers with something familiar. The latest Netflix animated series, Trese, is a little different. Based on a comic book series, Trese follows a young female detective, Alexander Trese, in a dark urban fantasy world inspired by Philipino mythology. She pursues the perpetrators of gruesome crimes by supernatural beings and attempts to uphold the agreements that her father struck between humans and the underworld. Some of the supernatural creatures are similar to those we have many stories about in the West. However, the inclusion of old gods and beings from Philippino culture brings new life to a crowded genre.

Plot

The flashbacks in the series hooked me straight away. I think that they did a good job of setting up the world and Trese’s past while also making the viewer wonder about what secrets are being held. Certain things about Trese’s father made me mistrust him from the start and this provided great foreshadowing for the ending. I like that we’re still not sure about what happened. What is the whole truth, who should we believe? It’s a situation that will completely change Trese’s perception of her own life and it sets the stage perfectly for season two. That being said, there was quite a lot going on and you had to really pay attention to keep up. At one point a new character showed up and suddenly he was on all of their missions. Am I crazy? When did Hank pop up?

That being said, the monsters in this series are fascinating. My favourite was the tiyanak, a demonic creature that wreaks havoc in the shape of… a baby. It was intensely creepy and disturbing. Netflix doesn’t shy away from the grotesque with their animated series. It was exciting to see these new mythological creatures and how they all had different motivations. Trese works to defeat these monsters and the plot builds as she tries to understand why there is so much new criminal activity going on. The inclusion of gods working behind the scenes added to the fantastical element of the showed and further upped the stakes.

Characters

Although the season retained my interest throughout, the characters failed to captivate me. Some critics have complained that Trese’s voice actress delivered the lines with too little inflection. I’m not sure whether her tone would have made much difference. She felt like one of those characters where I have little idea about who she is except that she’s cool and crazy things happen to her. I suppose it makes sense for her to be a bit stoic considering her tragic past.

The comic creators say that her character was originally intended to be a man but they made her a woman so that it would be a bit more original. It’s great to have a female lead but that in itself does not make the character. Perhaps I just like my heroes to have the perfect mix of brooding and humour, like Trevor Belmont in Castlevania. Whatever it is, Trese needs a bit more vitality in her character, something that will make the viewer remember her personality more.

Alongside Trese are her twin protectors, Crispin and Basilio. They come across as typical henchman characters, a bit dopey with some comedic relief. Although they are twins and share the same job, they should not be so uniform in character. I often forgot which twin was which and I couldn’t tell you what their differences in personality are supposed to be. Another character was Captain Guerrero, a policeman who helps Trese to keep the peace. He’s a sort of ‘good apple’ among the police force who hopes to steer clear of corruption. He fits into the stereotype a little too well. A paternal good cop just trying to keep the peace in this treacherous world. That felt a tad outdated in today’s political climate.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Trese has the makings of a great show. The season was immersive throughout and left me excited for season two. I hope that the characters are developed a bit further as I understand that they had a lot of characters to explore in six short episodes. Trese has a promising beginning and plenty of potential, particularly since the ending featured quite the cliff-hanger. I am also excited to see what new supernatural figures we will get in the future. It certainly has the advantage of offering something unique to its viewers.

6/10

Summary

Trese’s first season never bored me and it offered something new to the genre. However, the characters need a lot of development in order for this show to reach its full potential.

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