Trese, the review of the Filipino comic that became an anime

Trese, the review of the Filipino comic that became an anime


It is interesting to approach the review of Trese, the comic by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, because it opens the door to a previously unknown knowledge: the Filipino comic. Attention, do not call it manga, as I am seeing often happening online recently.

Trese: paranormal and surroundings

Trese is a comic that expertly mixes different oriental and above all western influences in a good mix of mystery and horror and even if the format is that of many manga that we usually read and that Star Comics publishes (I think of Heavenly Delusion, just to name a title). And the form in which Trese presents itself could not have been better given the absolutely exceptional season that manga and manhwa are experiencing.

Alexandra Trese is an investigator of the occult. Yes, we Italians definitely know something about it. The detective Guerrero of the police, strong of a bond of acquaintance with the family of the mysterious woman, usually contacts her because it seems that, on the streets of Manila, murders, accidents, strange apparitions and complex cases related to the supernatural are on the agenda. .

And this is precisely the fundamental aspect of Trese's review: the cultural melting pot of Manila and the Philippines in general is large and explosive and its folkore is composed of a multitude of elements that mix traditions on spirits and sprites close to oriental ones, African animist cultures, European influences in turn conditioned by the Catholic Christian faith and much more.

Alexandra Trese and her team, in the various vertically structured chapters, face very particular cases in which the real protagonists, in terms of aroused interest, are precisely the creatures and spirits that haunt the life of the investigator and who unfortunately ends up in the wrong alley, at the wrong time. We will then meet wandering spirits and goblins called Nuno, or vampire men called Aswang and the proud members of the tribe of anthropomorphic horses of the Tribe of Tikbalang. But what is part of the myth and traditions typical of Filipino folklore blends with traditions closer to our Christian-European legends, such as the Fire of St. Elmo and the Oriol which seem in all respects to be the Succubus who haunt the nightmares of the myth.

Trese: walking around Manila

Each story is a small case to be solved, often not particularly complex or intricate, but fascinating because of its exotic nature, that takes us to a country and a city of which we really know little or nothing.

Manila despite being a vast and culturally vibrant metropolis is placed outside the tourist radar and the high pockets of poverty present in its territory, in addition to the constant risk of terrorist actions, they still make it an area that is not easy and still not beaten by enthusiastic youtubers, travel agencies, etc. And so every page of Trese shows us a glimpse in which we recognize elements that are familiar to us but at the same time completely new.

And the reading is made even more interesting by the numerous editorial sections at the end of the chapter in which the creatures and entities protagonists of each story are described, revealing details and cultural contextualization, making the judgment of the reviews even more positive of Trese.

Read our review of Trese's anime series on Netflix

Trese: a melting pot, but not very oriental

On a narrative level Trese is a great mix of materials : impossible not to find the typical traits of Hellblazer and his John Constantine from DC or Sandman, not to mention the legendary Planetary agency, created by Warren Ellis, which investigates the mysteries of the world. All with an episodic structure typical of television serials such as The X-Files, Supernatural and a bit of Fringe. I'm not mentioning Dylan Dog just because I doubt our Craven Road 7 tenant got into the hands of Filipino authors. This is why I would like to emphasize how much this work should not be "confused" with a manga.

Although the look of the work and the settings convey a certain sense of belonging, close to works such as Devilman but also to Ghost in the Shell and Alita, as stated by Budjette Tan himself, on a narrative level we we find much more in the DC Comics / Vertigo home parts than towards Yu Yu Hakusho, Jujutsu Kaisen or Junji Ito's comics and the like.

It is particularly noticeable in the attitude of the protagonist Alexandra Trese: her way to approach spirits, entities and creatures, strong in an important family heritage (the figure of the grandfather) is damn hard boiled and contemptuous. A formula that does not go well with the "respect" that Japanese and oriental folklore in general always tends to have towards these phenomena. And then the protagonist is cloaked in mystery almost all the time, revealing the horizontal plot path in small (ssimi) pieces at a time.

Trese: the aesthetic component

From the point of graphic view the line of Kajo Baldisimo is really impactful and very captivating. Its black and white is intense and biting, full of impactful splash pages and with a strong western matrix.

The first tables, thanks to the comic format that is completely similar to manga, the look of the protagonist who makes him vaguely resemble Major Mokoto Kusanagi and the fact that an anime series for Netflix was based on this comic only gives us a temporary illusion that we are in front of a work of oriental aesthetic inspiration.

Even the almost total absence of kinetic lines suggests that the manga is not exactly the primary source of influence of this work. Each table is well enhanced and indeed, the color of the first tables takes away that excellent aura of interest towards a notable graphic component consistent with the tone of the narration.

Trese: just a change of clothes

I venture a consideration: if this comic had been published in Italy in the classic TPB format with which it came out in America, probably many of you would not even have noticed it and some more specialized realities would certainly have overshadowed it.

And instead look at how little is enough to ignite the curiosity of a taste that is now familiar: dress a work like a manga and maybe you will be able to capture the attention of those who follow that type of comic for the most part . Old as the world, I know, but applied to the great in this case.

In Trese's review, this aspect cannot be ignored, since the comic in question is exactly halfway between the two brands of the perugian publisher, Astra for western comics and Star for oriental comics, in this case perhaps more for reasons of longitude.

And this should also give us yet another demonstration of a rule that seems to have passed into oblivion in these strange years of crazy media communication; whether you call it manga, manhwa, graphic novel, comics, banda dessinée it is always and only about comics and you should feed as many good comics as possible, regardless of their geographic origin or setting.

I could not conceive my growth as a reader without Rumiko Takahashi, Katsuhiro Otomo or Naoki Urasawa, but not even without Chris Claremont, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller or thinking in more recent terms Charles Soule and Jonathan Hickman. And I guarantee you that I have never encountered difficulties in bringing together the two sides of the same identical coin. In short, do not limit yourself, open your mind, train it with all the good things you find.

In conclusion of the review of Trese I can only recommend you to read this comic which, although it does not present any elements at the moment. narratives of extraordinary originality, makes the setting that we perceive as exotic and its bizarre and interesting elements of folklore its strong points.

I want to bet on it and I want to believe in a horizontal development worthy of its - already occurred - transposition that will be able to cope with the frequent gender publications we are used to. Dear Budjette Tan, it must not have been easy growing up with a mother who believed you were possessed by a spirit, but if these are the results, well, not all evil comes to harm! Good nightmares!

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