Trese is a local award-winning horror/crime comic book series that depicts a world where creatures and monsters of Philippine mythology exist within the human world. Created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, it follows the story of Alexandra Trese, a female detective who solves crimes involving the occult. A babaylan-mandirigma (or shaman-warrior) by lineage, she possesses talents and weapons that allow her to mediate between the two worlds, and combat evil monsters intent to wreak havoc in the city.
Featuring an all-Filipino cast—led by Liza Soberano and Shay Mitchell in the Filipino and English dubs, respectively—the animated series is set to premiere on Netflix this Friday, June 11. If this your first time hearing about Trese, don’t worry—here are five things you need to know about this beloved series.
The Trese comics are over 15 years old.
Trese started out as a passion project in 2005 when Kajo Baldisimo reached out to Budjette Tan about a comic book idea. Fueled by a desire to create stories for themselves (they had been working for separate ad agencies at the time), the pair worked steadily on Trese in their spare time.
Later that year, they used their own money to publish 30 copies and sold them at a local comics shop for less than a dollar each.
All the copies sold out in a week, and Trese slowly amassed a huge fanbase.
Since then, Budjette and Kajo have written seven volumes—all available at Avenida Books and Fully Booked—with more on the way. The series also won three Philippine National Book Awards for Best Graphic Literature of the Year (2009, 2011, 2012).
Its characters are inspired by creatures of Philippine mythology.
Murder in Balete Drive—the first book in the series—opens with a hit-and-run involving a white lady, a prominent figure in Philippine ghost stories. As the story progresses, we meet more mythological creatures from Filipino lore, including the aswang, kapre, manananggal, nuno sa punso, and tikbalang.
A special mention goes to Trese’s twin bodyguards, Crispin and Basilio (also known as The Kambal) who are the half-deity sons of a Bukidnon war god. Filipino demigods? Yes, please!
Alexandra Trese wasn’t originally the hero they’d planned.
In an interview with Rice Paper Magazine, Budjette reveals that the character of Alexandra Trese was originally a man named Anton. But doing so felt like having another typical, tough guy detective story—so they decided to make the protagonist a woman.
Anton Trese still ended up in the comics as the titular character’s dad—the babaylan-mandirigma before her—from whose shadow Alexandra tries to step out of throughout the series.
Trese was pitched to (and rejected by) several Hollywood studios before getting picked up.
Netflix’s anime division accepted the pitch in 2018, and put together a stellar team to bring it to life. Tanya Yuson and Shanty Harmayn of Jakarta-based film company BASE Entertainment signed on as its producers, and Jay Oliva—who’s worked on acclaimed film and television like Wonder Woman and The Legend of Korra—as its director.
The show will be available in Filipino, English, and Japanese.
The comics are now available in the US and Canada!
As Trese made waves worldwide ahead of its Netflix release, international comic book company Ablaze became the first foreign publisher to pick it up in 2020. Prior to that, the first book made its way to the US in 2018, through a crowdfunding campaign led by the creators (and some help from acclaimed author Neil Gaiman, who tweeted about it!).
Watch the trailer here: