Pentel EnerGel Metal-tip RT Gel Pen – 0.7mm – “American” vs. “Japanese”

15 10 2011


JAPAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (disclaimer: both of these writing samples should be the same color of purple. Any difference is due to my incompetence with Photoshop, not due to any actual differences in ink)

With impeccably fortuitous timing, Brad at JetPens sent me a sample of the new Pentel EnerGel purple pen they started carrying just as I was preparing to review the American edition I’ve always seen in stores of that very same pen. I’m fascinated by the difference between the common American and the common Japanese office supply markets; it’ll be thrilling (for me and me alone probably) to examine those differences in the microcosm of a single pen model!

What Pentel thinks America wants...

...and what Pentel thinks Japan wants. (I apparently think Japan wants terrible lighting conditions)

Someone, somewhere, dictated that these pens would not look the same. I wonder what kind of market research goes into these designs. Are there focus groups, or is it just one pendividual’s personal conception of what each country stereotypically likes? Why does the “American” version have a metal clip? Because Americans would break a plastic clip? Why doesn’t the “Japanese” model look like an overenthusiastic spaceship impersonator? Why doesn’t the “American” model have color accents that are the same purple as the ink?



Even the logo branding differs.

Less obtrusive clip-based branding....


The biggest structural difference is where the pens come apart. The “American” model unscrews where the grip meets the barrel of the body; the “Japanese” model unscrews at the top, where the opaque plastic of the clip/plunger meets the translucent body barrel. Whhhhhyyyyyy? There is probably some good reason for this design divergence, but it’s far beyond my imagination. Elucidate me, Pentel. Make your secrets known.

These are like, what, the pen equivalent of fraternal twins? Or identical twins who had two different visions for how their plastic surgery should go?

Writing-wise, I love them both. These are, without a doubt, THE BEST EnerGel pens I have ever used. Not just because they are smooth/consistent/write in my favorite color, but because they and they alone seemed to not fall prey to the problem I have had with EVERY SINGLE OTHER EnerGel pen I’ve tried; it’s a problem that in other models completely undermines Pentel’s claim of the EnerGel being leftie-friendly. Do you recall this problem? Though the ink did seem to dry quickly and not smear, it still, after dry, managed to get all over the side of my hand and get redistributed back onto the page. But maybe “ideal for lefties” in a right-hander’s world just means not being dropped in a gulag, or not being forced to sit on the far, awkward side of the room, socially ostracized in the few feeble, rusty, and dilapidated “left-handed” desks the school provided as an afterthought.

As far as I could tell in tests of both pens, I did not have the unique problem that the black ink EnerGel models gave me. This is why colorful ink is better. Why am I not allowed to sign official documents in colorful ink? I think this is infringing on my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The pursuit of happiness bears a striking semblance to the pursuit of desirable writing utensils. Maybe we ought to let Thomas Jefferson know.

They write the same, and I think they both look good, in their own different way. I feel like I’m a kindergarten teacher telling every kid that everyone is special, only with pens instead of children.

Call upon your own personal aesthetic and decide which style choice is right for you, or decide that none of them are right and send Pentel an exuberantly worded and belligerent letter detailing exactly what you want. They probably won’t make it for you, but won’t you feel better getting that off your chest?

The “American” version of the Pentel EnerGel can be found all over the place. I probably got this one at either Jerry’s Artarama or my local pen store, Office Supplies & More. But you can also get it just about, if not every big-box office supply store.

The “Japanese” version, you guessed it: at JetPens. Pentel EnerGel X Metal-Tip Retractable Gel Ink Pen – 0.7 mm – Violet Body – Violet Ink
P.S. These pens are made of 84% recycled plastic, if you’re into that sort of thing.

P.P.S. This review is actually just a comparison of the EnerGel-X (the “Japanese” model) and the EnerGel Deluxe (the “American” model). It’s just that I’ve only ever seen the Deluxe in American stores, and the X on JetPens, but never the other way around. Also it’s more fun to pretend that this is just another example of my beloved conspiracy that none of the major pen companies want the American pen market to have anything good, and that the Japanese pen market is a wonderland of magic and endless ink-based delight. Isn’t it more interesting that way?