Months after its anime adaptation which aired on Netflix, “Trese” continues to be at the forefront of Filipino pop culture.
“Trese”, the best-selling and acclaimed komik book series, has taken different directions that creators Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo had not anticipated.
“The typical question at the time was, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years? “” Tan remembers. “I remember vividly saying, ‘Oh, I’m sure in 5 years we’ll have worldwide distribution. I’m sure we’ll have a full color comic and we’ll be in American comic book stores and comic book stores everywhere. Obviously, di nangyari yoon.
Reality has never looked better, however.
Alexandra Trese – two versions of the heroine komiks – is an official Funko Pop. The original comic book series, although written in English, is now reprinted and distributed in North America by the Oregon company Ablaze with special edition covers by Manix Abrera and Miguel Mercado. Additionally, there is a spinoff series called “Bloodlines” centered around the Trese brothers.
Trese joined the ranks of classic Filipino komik book icons Darna, Captain Barbel or Ang Panday as cultural phenomena.
Now, after “Trese” made history as the first Filipino anime on Netflix, the natural question is, what’s next?
With the US streaming platform and movie studios on a trajectory of adapting animated series to live action such as the recent “Cowboy Bebop,” “Death Note” and “Ghost in the Shell” among many others, one might think that this is the natural course for the Filipino series as well.
Tan reveals that from 2009 to 2018, “Trese” was billed as a live-action adaptation. After all, its executive producers, Tanya Yuson and Shanty Harmayn, had extensive experience working on live-action TV series and movies.
“You really can’t say what will draw you to the fandom. It might be an adaptation you don’t like, but it’s enough to get you down the rabbit hole and find its original source. Budjette laughs, adding “There’s a whole generation of kids whose first exposure to Star Wars is through Lego.”
Tan, who now works for Lego, denies that there is a “Trese” adaptation for this hugely popular toy.
The next chapter of the Komik book, however, is hopefully coming out in 2022.
“We used to aspire to global distribution or to be sold in America and that didn’t happen for a while,” Tan recalled. “By focusing on the job and putting fun and love in the job, it allowed him [‘Trese’] to travel to where he is now. Instead of turning it around and thinking, “Ano kaya’ng sisikat? Ano pwede nating gawin para sumikat tayo? ‘ It’s the perfect formula for failure.
Comics are works that require entropy. They work on a monthly rollout of numbers, causing varying degrees of fatigue for the creators if they aren’t measured against a winning passion.
“I still have my Marvel rejection letter with Spider-Man on the letterhead,” Tan says from his home in Denmark.
“Letter of rejection from Kahit ‘yun, tuwang-tuwa kami parang na-reject tayo ng Marvel. It was like, gallant ‘in his New York City. Na-reject tayo ng Marvel, ”he shouts with a glee that looks less like an adult and more like a kid who grew up as a fan of comics, that version of ourselves that we keep a secret in the face of adulthood. However, I suspect he’s someone who leans into that part of himself because Budjette Tan is first and foremost a fan.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that there could have been a world without “Trese”. More than a beacon of representation of Filipino culture, the komik and now the anime have resonated with a global audience. Her black paranormal sensibilities of Manila evoke the same kind of wonder and familiarity that brings us back to all the stories we believed in with children. And for younger generations, especially younger Filipino audiences, the series preserves and reinvents our culture in a way that makes you want more, to know more.
“Trese” is also representative of today’s Filipino ingenuity at a time when art and culture transcended borders, weaving Filipino folklore into contemporary metropolis of Manila through the tradition of American comics and now adapted in Japanese anime. However, it does not feel all the more like the beginning of the world of “Trese”.