Louise Jashil Sonido teaches at the University of the Philippines, Department of English and Comparative Literature. As a teacher, scholar, multimedia artist, and cultural worker, she has a range of research interests transecting literary criticism, intellectual historiography, media and film scholarship, performance curation, and ethnographies of multimedia production. E-mail: lrsonido@up.edu.ph


Notes on Animating a Haunted City: Urban Ecocriticism and Netflix’s Trese

Abstract: The Netflix animated series Trese adapts the Philippine comic book series of the same title by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. It follows the story of Alexandra Trese, a detective of supernatural crimes involving creatures of folklore and myth residing in the dark underbelly of cosmopolitan Manila. The series is a study in urban ecocriticism in its emplacement of the city within an environment that is haunted by a persistent indigeneity, but which transforms this indigeneity in compelling ways in a place of multifaceted power struggles. The transmediation of Trese from graphic fiction to animation through an international collaboration of artists based in the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States also serves as a point of inquiry into the material conditions of the animation industry that inevitably rework the source text, and therefore also its discourse on indigeneity, cultural memory, and the city. Indeed, in probing the ways that the human and nonhuman interact in the series, this paper considers how animation is a medium in which technology translates human life, or brings the nonhuman to life, probing the unique ways that the distinct materiality of animation activates human-machine interactions into new manners of living and engaging with the world and with ourselves.
Keywords: urban ecocriticism, indigeneity, animation studies, transmedia studies, human-technology interaction