TRESE Enters the Media Mix: From Komiks to Netflix Anime

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Maria Ana Micaela Chua Manansala


In 2005, Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo created Trese as an independent series of 20-page komiks, to be reproduced via photocopy and sold at local pop-culture conventions in Manila, as well as posted online. In 2008, the first collected volume, Trese: Murder on Balete Drive, was published by Visprint, Inc. The series has since had many volumes and variants, also receiving multiple awards, including the Philippine National Book Award for Best Graphic Literature in 2010. In June of 2021, the six-episode animated series began airing on Netflix.

This paper is part of a larger study on the entry of Philippine pop-text and mythological “database” into the transcultural media mix. It sets out preliminary comparisons of the komiks and the animated adaptation through close reading, identifying narratological strategies involved in the transmedia shift from a highly episodic comic book series to a relatively condensed animated TV series. By focusing on narrative compression in plot & pace, it explores how adaptational choices impact the representation not only of themes and specific characterizations foregrounded by the original stories, but of Philippine cultural knowledge in general. This includes the narrative representation of mundane and mythological spaces, folkloric and contemporary popular figures, and contextual references to Filipino “communal” experience and beliefs.

This textual approach also serves as groundwork for the larger analysis of transnational practices that transform the series. Thus, in lieu of conclusions, it relates the surveyed transformations to observations about the series’ history of international
publicity, as well as marketing strategies such as Netflix’ simultaneous cross-language dubbing into English, Filipino, and Japanese. Finally, it touches on aspects of audience and reception, surveying early reactions from Philippine media and discourses arising from the participation of a global Philippine diaspora online.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Future Directions in Comics Studies