If you’ve been a fan of the Trese graphic novels prior to it airing as an official anime on Netflix, you’ve definitely noticed the difference when it comes to Alexandra Trese's character design. For casual viewers of the groundbreaking show, the comic actually came out back in 2005 and featured a more androgynous-looking and less glamorous iteration of the character. In a Summit Sandwich Session, illustrator Kajo Baldisimo admitted that his art style for Alexandra would change over time to keep her looking fresh and interesting for every print run.
But don’t fret, discrepancies in character design are common when comparing the printed material to its animated counterpart. The studio and creators may want to explore other designs that could enhance the characters further. Series like Attack on Titan and the Fruits Basket 2020 remake are perfect examples of this, where the anime made way for more detailed renditions of the cast.
That said, Trese director Jay Oliva spoke with Kajo and the rest of the creative team regarding the tweaks to Alexandra’s appearance for the anime, and they revealed that her design was heavily inspired by Ghost in the Shell’s Major Motoko Kusanagi. ICYDK, Ghost in the Shell is a critically acclaimed franchise that encompasses the cult-classic 1995 film, the original manga, and multiple animated series and movie spin-offs (both 2D and 3D). They also axed Trese’s “horn-like” hairline seen in the comics and gave her a simpler bob (altho still reminiscent of the original drawing) for animation purposes—which actually made her look a lot more similar to the Major.
“For me, I wanted to make sure Filipinos look very pretty. ‘Cause we are very pretty people,” Jay tells Preview of the changes. “But what we were really trying to do is translate the 2005 version of Alex that Kajo had done and kind of updating it in a way. I just wanted a good-looking cast, but I didn’t realize how good-looking until the audience reacted [to the show.]”
Meanwhile, Kajo also revealed in a separate Netflix interview that Alexandra’s signature trench coat was based on an outfit worn by our National Hero Jose Rizal. The double-breasted buttons design seen in one of Rizal’s iconic photographs inspired the artist to create a similar version for Trese.
Trese is currently streaming on Netflix.
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