5 things to know about HBO’s Halfworlds

The shroud of secrecy over HBO Asia’s very own Halfworlds is finally set to be lifted with the show’s premiere on Sunday (Nov 29). We’ve had a little sneak peek earlier, but ahead of the very first episode, HBO Asia have given us some information that makes Halfworlds way more interesting than before, especially if you’re a comic-book fan.

1) It’s heavily based on Indonesian mythology. Set in modern-day Jakarta, it features a world where creatures have lived alongside humans for generations. While they look like humans, these “Demit” – “demons” in traditional Javanese – have been carefully concealed. But a supernatural event known as the “Gift” will expose the world, and a young street artist known as Sarah (actress Salvita Decorte in her TV debut) finds herself trapped between the humans and Demit.

Tara Basro as Ros. (Photo: HBO Asia)
Tara Basro as Ros. (Photo: HBO Asia)

With that, characters such as Ros (Tara Basro) – a Kuntilanak, or a demon who seduces then kills – and Tony – a Genderuwo or large and hairy creature – set to play a part, and all the creatures have their basis in Indonesian mythology.

2) There’s a comic-book link. Director Joko Anwar aimed for a graphic novel look for the dark fantasy series – and it looks like he found the right guy for the job: Comic artist Chris Lie (GI Joe), who does the art and animation for the series. You might remember Lie from his time onstage at STGCC at one of the panels in 2012, and the Indonesian artist from Caravan Studios might have just scored one of his biggest gigs.

It looks like Lie has had a huge hand in designing the characters and costumes (and possibly even the tattoos for the Demits) – I wish I could get a better look at his preview art, which you can get a glimpse of in the video above.

That’s not all – every episode opens with its own animation sequence which highlights the series’ mythology and backstory, and with Lie’s touch, this could be a key part to watch. Episode 8 comes with two animated segments – that’s going to be a treat.

3) There’re some kick-ass weapons and fighting. Lie also had a hand in designing the weapons, and a total of 11 weapons were created specially for the series. Three versions of each weapon were made – in metal for close-ups, in wood for fighting, and in rubber for stunt work.

And yes – cast members Arifin Putra, Verdi Solaiman, Hannah Al Rashid, Adinia Wirasti, Alex Abbad, Nathan Hartono, Tara Basro and Reza Rehadian all did their own stunts for the show. (HBO Asia also pointed out that their blood was made out of corn starch and red colouring.)

4) Nathan Hartono stars in the show. On top of their own stunts, one of the actors, Singaporean Hartono, also plays music for the show. After all, he’s acting as a musician, Coki, who falls in love with Sarah.

Nathan Hartono as Coki. (Photo: HBO Asia)
Nathan Hartono as Coki. (Photo: HBO Asia)

So fans of the extra-popular musician will get to hear him sing original tracks on the show including songs like Northern Star and A New Season. (He won’t just be singing in the show – this TODAY interview reveals that he’s going to be, well, quite sweaty.)

Joining him is Indonesian indie rock band Negative Lovers, also bringing new stuff just for Halfworlds.

5) You can watch episode one for free. Don’t have an HBO subscription? You can still catch the first episode for free on Facebook immediately after it airs … and then you have another week to get quickly signed up for cable TV.

Halfworlds premieres Sunday, Nov 29, at 10pm on HBO. The second episode airs Dec 6, at the same time.


The technological backbone of, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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