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AAPI Supernatural Recommendations for Fans of Disney’s ‘So Weird’

It’s been well documented that I am a fan of the ‘90’s Disney Channel original series, So Weird; a paranormal drama that balances out both the supernatural and tender-hearted moments of a grieving family. But when you’ve watched the same episodes over and over again, you can’t help but ache for something new, but with a similar vibe. To balance out the desire of also wanting to see more stories created by and starring people that look more like you can make for a grand adventure.

While current Disney Channel viewers can get their fill of heart-hammering spookiness in the form of the recently renewed Secrets of Sulphur Springs, these recommendations are for those who grew up on So Weird. Also, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, all these stories are both created by and centered on people of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Comic Recommendation: Trese

Alexandra Trese as she appears in the upcoming Netflix anime adaptation of Trese.

Created by writer Budjette Tan and artist Kajo Baldisimo, the ongoing comic series follows the adventures of Alexandra Trese; an investigator who solves crime stemming from the supernatural world. From seeking help from a nuno to beating a tikbalang at its own racing game, she is a badass at handling creatures native to the mythology of the Philippines.

As of last year, Trese is slowly being released in the United States through Ablaze Publishing, ahead of its upcoming anime adaptation for Netflix. Actress Shay Mitchell will be voicing Trese in the English language dub.

So Weird fans will love the hardcore bossing that is Trese, and while she’s no Fi, one can’t help but respect her knowledge of the supernatural world. Much like So Weird, the series pulls from real world myths and legends, and factor them into stories so high intense, it will be hard to put the book down.

Short Film Recommendation: Mo’o!

Written and directed by Anela Ling, Kekoa is struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother. Much to his annoyance, he accompanies his younger cousin, Mika, out of the house, in search of spirits. Along the way, a mo’o – a shapeshifting lizard spirit in Hawaiian mythology whom Mika believes is the reincarnation of his late aunt — keeps watch over the two boys.

The vibes between Mo’o! and So Weird are so similar, it’s uncanny. Aside from also incorporating real world mythology into the story, you have the dynamic between the younger family member who’s interested in ghosts and the older family member who denies it. When it becomes more apparent that these two are dealing with grief in very different ways, the loss of Rick and how it has affected Fi and her family are not far from the mind.

Mo’o! has been making its way around the film festival circuit, having recently played at the Made in Hawaii Film Festival.

Podcast Recommendation: Hi Nay

Written, directed, produced, and created by Motzie Dapul and co-produced and co-created by Reg Geli, the supernatural horror series for the ears introduces listeners to Mari Datuin, a Filipino immigrant living in Toronto, Canada. After accidentally finding herself meddled in an unexplainable occurrence that she’s able to cease thanks to her babaylan (shaman) upbringing, she works with the Toronto Police on more of them as they pop up all over the city.

So Weird fans were teased with the history of witches that exists in Fi’s family prior to season three taking a different direction. To see Mari be brought up knowing her family’s power and putting it to good use will undeniably have fans thinking of what could have been.

Part one of season one of Hi Nay is now available.

Feature Film Recommendation: Finding ‘Ohana

FINDING ‘OHANA (L to R) KEA PEAHU as PILI, BRANSCOMBE RICHMOND as KIMO in FINDING ‘OHANA. Cr. COLLEEN E. HAYES/NETFLIX © 2021

From writer Christina Strain and director Jude Weng, Brooklyn-raised siblings, E and Pili, and their widowed mother temporarily relocate to Hawaii for the summer to take care of their estranged grandfather. While getting adjusted to their surroundings, things take an interesting turn when Pili uncovers a journal that’s been in their family for a long time, that eventually leads to a once-in-a-lifetime treasure hunt.

While this family-friendly adventure sounds more like a recommendation for fans of Indiana Jones, Finding ‘Ohana will hit home for So Weird fans with the different ways the subject of family is explored. From the tension between the siblings’ mother and grandfather, the dynamic between E and Pili, and the hole left from the untimely loss of their own father, the familial aspects of So Weird is what will draw fans to watch this Netflix release and love it just as much.

(I interviewed the stars of Finding ‘Ohana for The Nerds of Color earlier this year about the making of the film.)

Music Video Recommendation: “Be Sweet” by Japanese Breakfast

In the music video for the first single off of Japanese Breakfast’s upcoming album, Jubilee, frontwoman Michelle Zauner (who also directed) and Marisa Dabice get goofy with a X-Files-esque story of their characters looking for aliens. Complete with strings connecting clues up on their snug office wall and using the wildest-looking devices to detect the aliens’ presence, the wigs and vintage car they drive around in add a dash of retro to the overall light-hearted video.

Anyone who knows a thing or two about So Weird knows that it’s been hailed as the X-Files for kids, and so this video is not far off the mark in that regard. Although the show was primarily about the supernatural world, the presence of aliens was canon as well. While So Weird was undeniably dark at times, it balanced out the heaviness with lighter moments throughout. It’s these aspects of the show that fans are sure to appreciate Japanese Breakfast’s “Be Sweet” music video.

TV Series Recommendation: City of Ghosts

CITY OF GHOSTS (L to R) KIRIKOIU MULDREW as EVA and AUGUST NUNEZ as ZELDA in episode 101 of CITY OF GHOSTS Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2021

Created by Elizabeth Ito, this Netflix series follows a group of kids who go around Los Angeles in search of ghosts, while learning about the different stories that make up the city. While not focusing solely on the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, there are a couple episodes that explore stories set in neighborhoods such as Little Tokyo and Koreatown. Isa Fabro, a Filipino American chef who voices Chef Jo in the first episode, talks about her experience of recording for the show in episode 24 of ShoPowSho.

Although this show is geared for a much younger audience, its mockumentary style and realness provided by the adult characters are what makes City of Ghosts recommendable for those who grew up on So Weird. Even though most of the ghosts are more of the generic, transparent kind, the fact that the show draws on the real history of Los Angeles is an element that can also be appreciated by those who recall Fi’s opening monologues about the different histories and phenomena that connect to each of the So Weird episodes.

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