“Tabi tabi po.”
There were literal goosebumps when the first trailer for the anime adaptation of TRESE was released. And now that we’re just a day away from its premiere, we can’t deny that our excitement is probably as big as a higante!
In case you’ve been living inside a Balete tree for the past few years, Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo’s award-winning comic book series TRESE is heading to Netflix as a six-episode anime series. It is set to bring to the international audience a purely Filipino story that features creatures from our rich mythology including the tikbalang, nuno, and of course, the aswang.
The series follows the eponymous detective, Alexandra Trese, whose lineage has destined her to become the peacekeeper between the humans and the mythological creatures who have made the city of Manila their home. Alongside her are the Kambal Crispin and Basilio, masked mystical entities who always got Trese’s back.
When the clock strikes midnight at the end of June 10, the Lakan ng Sangkatauhan and her companions will finally arrive on Netflix. To celebrate her arrival, here are thirteen facts about the comics, the anime, and the people behind them.
1. The series was first pitched as a live-action adaptation (and it might still be turned into one!)
In a recent roundtable Zoom interview we had with its creators, Trese writer Budjette Tan revealed that in the ten years that BASE Entertainment producers Tanya Yuson and Shanty Harmayn have been pitching the comics to different studios for an adaptation, it has always been for a live-action adaptation. It was in 2018 when Netflix greenlit the project as an animated series.
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“We’re very happy and [we’re] still trying to grasp the reality that it is now an animated series,” said Budjette. He also noted that “one of these days, in the near future, we might just see a live-action Trese.”
2. Trese was initially a man.
A badass heroine in black busting aswang hideouts might not have been the Trese we have today if Budjette Tan pursued his first concept of the Lakan. At first, the series was to headline a man, Anton Trese, until Budjette decided to trade him for a more unique, female character.
But artist KaJO Baldisimo also shared that Alexandra’s iconic hairline was actually from their Anton design. “We designed him first, then when [Budjette] and I decided that she should be a girl, we just transplanted that design to her.”
Anton would still be part of the series as the father of Alexandra.
3. Alexandra’s getup was inspired by José Rizal.
Aside from the origins of her hairline, Baldisimo also shared that Alexandra’s getup was inspired by the coat of none other than our National Hero, José Rizal.
“When you Google him, Google Image, there’s a specific picture of José Rizal wearing a coat with white piping on it, and the buttons, so that [inspired] Trese.” said Baldisimo.
4. It all started with a radio show.
So where did it all begin? In an interview with the Hustle Podcast, Tan explained that the idea for Trese all started after he worked on a late-night radio show with Mark Gatela. It was about everything supernatural and Gatela came up with a fictional narrator for the show– Anton Trese, who was voiced by Tan himself.
Tan tells hosts Tristan and Pawi that the name, along with the “idea of telling horror stories in a Metro Manila setting, updating old stories which are told to us by our lolos and lolas but setting it in the city,” just stuck to him.
5. The show’s Filipino-American showrunner has worked on some of your favorite films & shows.
Jay Oliva who serves as the director and showrunner for TRESE has worked on a slew of Hollywood films and US TV shows, some of which are animated shows you’ve probably watched growing up. He served as a storyboard artist to titles like Deadpool, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, The Legend of Korra, Ben 10, Teen Titans, and so much more!
He has also directed some of the most popular animated DC films such as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Batman: Assault on Arkham, and Justice League Dark to name a few.
“For me, after working on all of these adaptations of DC comics, Marvel comics, and other IPs, working on [TRESE] is like a love letter to a culture that I had to romanticize growing up here in the States. And in a lot of ways, I say this a lot, I believe that my career set me up to work on this show,” Oliva told the press during the recent junket.
6. For the show, Oliva went on a tour in Manila where he saw Balete Drive, the MRT, Manila museums, and Quiapo. He also bought some anting-anting.
In the press notes provided by Netflix, the show’s writer and producer Tanya Yuson revealed that they took Director Jay Oliva and Art Director Jojo Aguilar on a tour around Manila to highlight the locations in the book and to also introduce them to parts of Philippine culture they may not be aware about given that they grew up in the US.
“Part of this immersive experience was riding the MRT through all 13 stations during the lunch rush on their first day, looking at artifacts at the National Museum, seeing the Pre-colonial Gold collection and Dioramas at the Ayala Museum, as well as a walking tour around Quiapo,” shared Yuson.
Oliva also added that they got to see Balete Drive where the famous White Lady supposedly resides, and they also got their hands on some anting-anting.
“We purchased a few for reference, and you’re supposed to do certain things to the charm – like rub it with salt or leave it exposed to the full moon – in order to activate the charm and benefit from its good luck. But if you don’t maintain the rituals, it turns to bad luck. So I thought I’d be better off if I didn’t activate it – and I warned everyone at the studio not to activate it when we got back to the US. I didn’t want to mess with what could have happened!” Oliva shared.
7. Trese had a crossover with Batman and Wolverine.
Back in 2020, Tan and Baldisimo released a fan-comic titled Trese: Night at The Museum, where Alexandra Trese got to meet DC and Marvel superheroes Batman and Wolverine. Set at the Philippine National Museum where an exhibit of the Aswang Queen’s remains is in place, Trese finds herself surrounded by The Hand organization who aims to resurrect the monstrous creature. Luckily, she’s got help as Logan and Bruce Wayne are in the premises, ready to fight alongside her. You can read it for free at the Trese blog.
Besides this fan-comic, Trese has also officially appeared in other comic series, including Skyworld from Mervin Ignacio and Ian Sta. Maria and Ambush by Andrew Villar.