Admittedly Mukat has been one of those titles brushed off as yet-another-manga-clone, if purely based on the cover and a quick perusal of the issues. But the arrival of the TPR gave me incentive to finally read this story, and I’m glad I did.
These are the adventures of prince Eric of Euclidia, who sets off into the world to try and save this girl Dayan from whatever uncertain fate befell her. He has a balanced weapon and magic skill that lets him use the Mukat, a gem that adds magic power to a strong sword. Tagging along are Jany
a Pokemon master a monster-handler skilled with a whip and other weapons, and Sapok a mage with a cheerful disposition.
Mukat is the compiled VERY early work by Mel Casipit, back in 2002-2006. The covers are from 2010, when the series was released into the Starmall Komikon. The difference between the insides and the outsides is quite striking, in a good way. Yet even the earlier work shows a raw artistry that is hard to ignore, now that you’re invested in the story. It has nearly perfect awareness of good paneling and pacing, even then. Even though the book is chock-full of manga tropes (sweatdrops, big eyes, cute monsters, big hair), all of these are used in the interest of the story, and not to be manga-ish. This is what I’m saying: he was already this good when he was just starting out. Is it any wonder if his current work is even more awesome?
What makes all of this raw-ness so easy to accept, by the way, is the same reason Boy Bakal is liked for all its roughness: the characters are memorable. Eric, Jany, and Sapok are all distinct from each other, full of imperfections mixed with the strengths. Granted Eric’s team feels like a good build from a good RPG game (a mid-range weapons fighter, a mage, a balanced close-combat warrior, then joined later by a pure-strength fighter), but that said these characters are likeable people. They play against each other’s strengths and weakness, creating a work that makes you want to know more about the people and to root for them. Now that you’re invested, you don’t care as much if the proportionality of the rendition sometimes missteps, or if the lettering is all raw and written in, as long as the story moves along.
The world-building for this story is also admirable (and I swear it makes me envious). It is well-considered even if it is simple. Again, granted it shows the heavy influence of the Final Fantasy series and the Pokemon franchise, but this is still a world that Mel made and made his own.
Overall this is a work done by a younger artist still trying his wings, but it clearly shows the raw potential the more polished current artist is now showing. He has moved on to better and more mature things since then, but he rose from this awesome start, and is bound to reach greater heights.