Trese The Show Is A Complete Disappointment
Trese has an awful first episode. It’s such an underwhelming piece of animated storytelling in almost every regard. I’m probably not even going to watch three episodes for a full review. A half-hour episode felt too long and arduous, and I wanted to stop by about the twenty-minute mark.
And this is especially unfortunate because of what little information I’ve researched about the source material. Trese is a successful Filipino komik book (their version of a comic book) that uses Filipino folklore and culture. And it would be awesome for such a thing to find new audiences. Squid Game proved that foreign media can massively succeed with Western audiences.
But this review is about the show. The previously mentioned awful show. So, allow me to unpack that accusation and take you through some of its problems.
This Show Has Problems Pretty Much Everywhere
Let’s begin with how generic it feels, shall we? Despite having a simple premise, Trese manages to over-establish its lore. It has the classic issue of way too many proper nouns, way too much information right off the bat, and it leaves the audience reeling. And it does this while still feeling like a worse version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The Dresden Files. It does almost nothing interesting with this urban fantasy premise. It also doesn’t hold up as a world. It’s confusing. They kind of treat the magic as secretive, and hidden, and yet maybe it’s not a secret? What’s worse—and even more confusing—is several characters’ reactions to various events are so blasé it hurts.
And this brings us to our main character. I’m all for a stoic badass who wears black, but Alexandra Trese doesn’t work in this depiction. She’s so stoic it’s hard to connect with her as a character. I know nothing of her personality in the first episode. She has no established hobbies, habits, or interests. She’s not funny or witty or even technically dour. The voice actress is doing a flat, no-nonsense voice successfully, but it is flat and thus boring. There’s also no reason to expect her to be in any danger going forward. She effortlessly—though they try to make it seem like it isn’t super easy for her—wins every single fight. She handles every conflict efficiently. And, yes, there’s a time and a place where that’s cool, but there’s no tension here. You can’t have your main characters mow down a small army of aswang (demonic creatures from Filipino folklore) in episode one, and then ever expect them to be scary again.
Trese Removes All Its Tension In One Big Scene
And let’s talk about that fight and the animation in general. Animation is hard, expensive, and takes a lot of skill—I certainly couldn’t make a show like this. But, that said, this is sloppy by the current standards of television. Movements are awkward, and though the character models look cool when they’re static, they don’t move impressively. The final fight scene tries to be exciting and epic, but it’s shoddy and lurching. And that was the scene where they seemed to be putting the most effort.
But enough about how it looks and sounds, let’s go to how they handle the plot. Episode one is breakneck fast and tries to fit more into a single episode than most shows have in a season. Political intrigue, tragic backstory, multiple seemingly different magic systems, and a prophecy all crammed into thirty minutes. It’s too complicated and finished too quickly to be satisfying. We have a villain who we barely learn about—but already is defeated. We have these exposition scenes that summarize and truncate what would’ve been interesting mysteries. They try to do the “some monsters are men” thing like The Witcher but delivers that idea with all the subtlety of a brick. It’s a mess.
Trese Has A Hamfisted And Rushed Progression
If Trese looks interesting to you, then go read the komik. The monsters and plot concepts, given a much better presentation, seem promising. A culturally specific urban fantasy show, noir style or otherwise, made by someone of that culture is something I’d like to see a lot more. It’s a fun way to celebrate those cultures, give creators of those areas a bigger voice, and get more variety for urban fantasy fans. I’d love to see a show like that done well, with the backing of a major streaming site. But Trese is not done well. It’s really not.
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