Throughout the coronavirus outbreaks around the world, we’ve seen numerous cancellations in the tech and live entertainment industries. In the interest of safety, companies are postponing mass gatherings to contain the spread of the virus. With everyone staying home, on-demand entertainment is proving essential to maintain some semblance of sanity.
Unfortunately, entertainment companies are also delaying their production processes in the meantime. Today, Netflix has announced the postponement of production for its most popular shows. Starting now, the company has paused the fourth season of hit show Stranger Things, the fifth season of Lucifer, and the second season of Russian Doll. For now, internationally shot series — like The Witcher — can still continue production, albeit on a day-to-day basis based on current risk.
Naturally, a pause in production means a delay in the seasons’ respective premiere dates. We don’t know when the new release dates will be yet.
With the recent report, Netflix is joining Disney’s own postponements. Announced days earlier, Disney pushed back the premieres of much-awaited films like Mulan, The New Mutants, and Antlers. The company has also delayed a few series (particularly, Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) on its streaming platform, Disney+.
With no end in sight, it’s time to look for other series to binge and catch up on in the meantime.
As general rules, the CDC or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed these to help with preventing the spread of COVID-19:
- Stay home when sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water
- Clean frequently touched surfaces
Netflix’s first games will be mobile-only first
Including Stranger Things titles
Since the rise of its popularity years ago, Netflix has dominated the streaming services industry. Since then, the company has moved past just hosting content on its platform. They have also produced their own content including hit shows like Stranger Things. Now, they are going further than just films and TV series. Netflix is expanding to mobile games first.
Days ago, Netflix announced development towards gaming content. However, in their earnings report for the second quarter of this year, Netflix announced focus on mobile games first. To do so, the company has hired former EA official Mike Verdu for the project.
The company has also listed some properties that it is working on. The first game titles will include ones for Stranger Things. Further, Netflix subscribers will have free access to the games with their subscription. However, since the focus is still on mobile, only mobile users can access them when they come out.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Netflix tried interactive content. Recently, they released a special choose-your-own-adventure version of Black Mirror called Bandersnatch. Viewers were able to steer the film according to prompts on their screen, effectively making their own version of the film. Though the film never kickstarted the interactive film genre, it redefined how Netflix content can be enjoyed digitally.
Now, with whatever Netflix is planning, the company is likely continuing that trend.
Netflix could add video games to the platform at no extra cost
It’s trying to create a metaverse
Netflix revolutionized video streaming a decade ago and has been leading the sector ever since. Now, the company plans to leverage its reach and offer video games on the platform in a bid to dominate the entertainment industry.
The streaming service currently has more than 200 million subscribers globally and hosts movies, TV shows, and documentaries. According to a Bloomberg report, video games will be added as a new genre, and many experts are stoked about its future potential.
The streaming platform hired former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive Mike Verdu to head up the project. He has worked on many projects such as The Sims, Plants vs. Zombies, and Star Wars franchises. At Facebook, he was responsible for bringing games and other content to Oculus platforms.
Over the years, Netflix has experimented with many projects that aim to complement its existing entertainment library. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style production that made the watching experience far more engaging and exciting.
It has also previously tied up with third-party developers to release a couple of Stranger Things-themed mobile games. The company has also invested heavily in Game-inspired TV shows and movies such as Dota, Castlevania, and The Witcher.
Investors are also keenly watching how Netflix can establish a metaverse — a variety of virtual experiences, environments, and assets that make up an ecosystem. In simpler words, video games, TV shows, and movies can complement each other to offer a vaster entertainment experience.
While comparing Netflix’s current ambition to Google Stadia or Microsoft xCloud may be an overstatement at the moment, the cloud gaming sector is expected to be the future. If Netflix can gradually ramp up its offerings, the platform can be a formidable competitor in the entertainment space.
Netflix’s Trese: Beacon of hope for Filipino storytellers
According to a graphic novel writer
The wide, deep, and varied world of comics or graphic novels was something that remained unexplored until I was forced to because of work. As an introductory lesson to comics and graphic novels, Trese was a part of my reading assignment. And since they did not have all the volumes of Trese, I went on a hunt for it.
The one I got is the Trese: Book of Murders which is in English. It was a quick read but I was more curious to read the Filipino version. Either way, I finished it within the same day I purchased it. And I loved it.
Though I did not delve deep into the fandom, I was curious enough to join the Facebook group and to check on updates every now and then which was why I cheered when I saw that there was going to be an animated series based on the comics.
“Sadly, there are things that had to be sacrificed if it meant getting things done.”
On keeping the art and story
It had been around three years since I last read the entire thing and I needed a refresher. I finished it just an hour before the series was available for streaming.
I watched the entire series in one sitting. Starting from the surface, the art is gorgeous and very pleasing to the eyes, but maybe a tad too Western than what I would have wanted.
I am not saying that they should have copied the exact art style from the comics but maybe it could have been a bit more Filipino-looking. As much as I adore how Alexandra Trese looked, she looks almost American-Japanese. But, nevertheless beautiful.
Story-wise, it did not change a lot but it surely compressed it a bit. Maybe a bit too much that they had to rely on voiceovers and flashbacks in order to touch on important parts and deliver the story without leaving too many loopholes.
It was understandable but some parts felt dragging just because it was compressed. But that could also be due to other factors. And sadly, there are things that had to be sacrificed if it meant getting things done.
“I can’t think of anyone who can be the voice of Alexandra Trese other than Liza.”
The never-ending discourse about the dub
Now onto the part that everyone has been talking about even before it started to stream―the dub. There’s Filipino, English, Japanese, and Spanish the last time I checked.
I tried it all and I have mixed emotions. I originally went for the Filipino dub mainly because I wanted to get the full Filipino experience. Out of curiosity, I rewatched one episode and tried the other languages.
The Spanish one was almost natural but maybe that’s because of the familiar words that we have adapted. The Japanese one was interesting, giving that anime feel that was kind of cool and maybe had the most emotion among the dubs.
The English dub was also nice but some Filipino terms and names tend to sound kind of slang. With the Filipino one, it was the most natural one… vibe-wise.
But what I did not like about the Filipino dub was the lack of emotions in some parts and mainly from Alexandra Trese. Though it was established that Alexandra was not that emotionally expressive, she sounded so monotonous throughout the entire series.
Maybe, just maybe, Liza Soberano was focusing on her enunciation that she was not able to deliver enough emotions in her lines. But other than that, I can’t think of anyone who can be the voice of Alexandra Trese other than Liza. Just a bit more voice acting workshop, I guess, and she’s good to go.
Setting up the stage for other storytellers
It may not be perfect and polished as others may have hoped for but I do hope that Trese can pave the way for other Filipino comics, and other local stories to make their way to a more global or international scene.
Philippine mythology is filled with deities and creatures, which are varied depending on every region of the country. The most common deity mentioned and used is Bathala, the Supreme Being in the Tagalog region, while the most common creature used is the aswang.
Even in the American fantasy TV series “Grimm”, they featured the aswang, but I personally think we have other creatures that are far more horrifying. There is the sigbin which looks like a dog but it walks backwards with its head lowered and it sucks its victim’s blood but during Holy Week, it hunts children for their hearts. That’s just one of the many.
A lot of Filipino creators have shared their vision and interpretation of our mythology and folklore such as Tabi Po by Mervin Malonzo, Mythology Class by Arnold Arre, Ella Arcangel by Julius Villanueva, Janus Silang by Edgar Samar, and more. From popular titles to independent creations that you would see at a smaller comic convention, more artists and writers are showing appreciation for what is ours.
Plenty of mythology to explore
At first, I was not aware of just how vast our own mythological world is and I only knew very little folklore. But when I started to work in Epik Studios Inc., I had to read and learn more. What made me delve deeper was during the time that I was tasked to write the modern take on Bernardo Carpio. Instead of sticking to the popular creatures for the villain, I researched creatures that are barely used. Not only did I find a fitting villain for Bernardo Carpio, but I also found inspiration for new stories that I want to write in the future.
We have a rich folklore and mythology that has yet to be fully showcased but we have a lot of storytellers who wish to show it to the world. It’s about time that we do.
Watch Trese on Netflix.
This opinion piece was written by Patch Aviado, a creative producer and a writer who worked on graphic novels such as Bernardo Carpio, Pedro Penduko: The Legend Begins, Maria Makiling, and Osyana. Together with Viva Books, she published Garden of Sunflowers. Currently, she’s working on an online novel entitled Blue Hearts, Purple Roses. When she’s not writing, she’s busy fangirling.
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