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?

Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-Point Gel Ink Pen – 0.35 mm – Black

24 03 2011

I swear I cleaned the scanner before I used it. I cannot explain why that giant smudge is there. I should really get my own scanner/ one that isn't 7 years old...

Having played with an EnerGel before, I decided it was time to continue sauntering down needle-point micro-tip lane and go straight for the 0.35mm version of the EnerGel pen.

The sparkly blue plastic is evocative of a state fair bumper car (no actual bumping allowed)

By printing "Recap after use." in English on a Japanese pen, I think Pentel is indicating just what they think of the intelligence of their average English-speaking pen user. But maybe the Japanese on there says that too. I'm just speculating conspiratorially.

This pen is another entry in the plastic lightweight class (firm plastic that still has a little give to it; not brittle), with a metal clip, metal tip, and several nice little design accents that make it stand out.

Note: when I'm trying to determine what kind of plastic a pen is made of for these reviews, I typically chomp on the pen. In public. I make myself even weirder for the enrichment of your knowledge.

Like the gill-slits showing off the smoky semi-transparent grey plastic beneath. No function (to my knowledge). Purely design. And I love it. Anything that differentiates a pen from being a long, simple cylinder is a step in the right direction, in my book. The labeling on the cap is also useful, provided you have this pen in enough sizes that differentiating between EnerGels is something you’d need to ever do (as this is the only EnerGel I have in this design, the utility is somewhat lost on me).

I’m currently torn as to whether I’d like to see the barrel itself come in other sparkly color options; the blue is classy enough as not to be garish, but I could see an expanded color barrel line quickly devolving into a brouhaha of tween-branded, gaudy-looking, eye-corrupting, sparkle-rainbow-pukefest. Perhaps if the line were restricted to [color]-black barrels (blue-black, violet-black, burgundy-black, green-black, black-black) then the EnerGel could remain respectable but add a touch of individualization.

As long as the sparkly EnerGel never gets a tie-in with the Twilight monstrosity, then I'd still be okay with neon-colored tween EnerGels

The cap clicks onto the end of the pen to post, which is nicely reassuring. You know then the cap is in place. It’s not going anywhere. I just shook this posted pen in front of my coworkers to prove this very point. And the cap, as I just mentioned, did not go anywhere.

This needle tip is sturdy enough that I don't have my typical unfounded fears that I'm going to break the tip of the pen

The grip is a shiny-sparkle-metallic-colored rubber matching the body of the pen. Comfortable enough; or at least, not of discomfort, which I’d have noticed. What was uncomfortable, however, was the plastic ridge above the grip, where the plastic of the cap meets the body of the pen. After writing for a while, I was particularly aware of the discomfort it was causing me, and found myself wishing I had some way to take the ink cartridge out of the pen body and move it to the EnerGel RT body (I have not, as yet, found such a way). This is one of my biggest complaints with this pen. Maybe it’s just a problem with how I hold my gnarled left hand as I write my hooked scrawlings, but at the end of the written review I was glad to give my thumb a rest from the pressing plastic.

I also like these weird shapes happening here. What is this? Totally unnecessary. Unnecessary is what I love.

As for the actual writing performance, this is just a finer-tipped version of the other EnerGel I reviewed, with all the same benefits and problems. It writes dark and smooth, but puts out maybe the teensiest bit more ink than I think a pen of its nib size should. I did not experience faster drying times from this pen more than any other pen; drying times seem almost entirely at the mercy of the paper used. And though the writing remained pretty crisp all through dragging my hand across the page, my skin still picked up and moved ink particles around the page–if you look closely (maybe you can’t actually see it in my scan, but I can see it as I obsessively press the paper to my eyeballs) you can see that bits of ink have been smudged onto white spaces. How the letters remain crisp in spite of this flaw is probably dark wizardry.

Do not be lured by Pentel’s claims of this pen being “Ideal for Lefties”–this is not the Holy Grail we’ve been looking for. What this pen is, is it’s a good gel pen with a nice, fun, yet professional design. Another good contender in the micro-tip category, just watch for ink getting picked up on your hands, and hopefully you won’t have the same problems with the grip that I have. The only thing that could make this pen better (without actually changing anything about its production) would be if it were generally available in American chain stores (hint, hint, Target, you’ve been getting a good selection going lately, you should think about picking up this pen, hint).

Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-Point Gel Ink Pen – 0.35 mm – Black at JetPens

Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Ink Pen

27 12 2010

In hindsight, I think I should have drawn some sunglasses on here. Should you find yourself interested in legibility, click on the picture.

Aside from accidentally bending this page when scanning (not sure how I managed that), I’m quite happy with how this review came out. I wasn’t expecting to get good sketches out of this pen, but as long as I’m not doing tiny drawings, this pen does nicely. No blobbing of ink on the tip. But look, why don’t I try to talk about this pen in a more logical, perhaps less haphazard way?

Sleek. Silver. No nonsense. A business pen's business pen.

We met in your typical office supply store; I can’t tell you now whether it was Staples, Office Depot, or Office Max. All I know is that I locked eyes with this pen, and its discounted price of $4, and I knew that we were meant to be together, after a small monetary exchange. The combination of sleek and matte silvery metal gives the pen a look of subtle class that a solid covering of only one or the other wouldn’t achieve. The pen isn’t very heavy, resting in the palm of my hand, but has just enough weight when held for writing. I don’t know what to say about the textured grip–it is neither irritating nor impressive. Metal texture grips always confuse me.

I know what you're thinking. This image is crappy. Look, just focus on the plunger end, okay? This picture is all about that.

The plunger has a satisfying click. Even better, the plunger has a spring mechanism that pushes the plunger back up after it’s clicked; even when the nib is deployed, the plunger stays up, meaning none of that annoying plunger rattling that some click pens are plagued with.

Look at dat sexy plunger. I JUST WANNA CLICK YOU BABY

The neverending curse of the left-handed individual.

The ink isn’t waterproof, but I was impressed with how resistant it was to bleeding through the page, and how crisp my writing remained even as I was obviously picking up ink and moving it around the page with my hand. You can see some of the ink on the side of my hand here, and I suppose if you look close enough you can find it in the writing sample. It would be nice if it didn’t move ink like that at all, but it’s certainly much better than the abominable smudge-messes I’ve produced while, say, writing with a Pentel RSVP (which used to be my favorite ballpoint pen, until I realized what awful messes I was making every time I wrote with them. This was also before I discovered Jetstreams).

You won't find blobs of ink here

This particular pen is 0.7mm, and I eventually intend to give some 0.5mm EnerGel a try. I found its writing consistent, its ink a good shade of black. The pen started writing after probably months of me not using it. It isn’t any sort of artistic go-to, but it suffices in a pinch (read: boring business meeting). If I need to pack a briefcase with something professional looking…well, frankly, this is probably the most professional-looking, full-size, serious business pen I have. But, if some intimidating corporate-type uses my pen and keeps it forever, I won’t go broke getting a new one.
Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Ink Pen at Office Max

I am going to assume that maybe I got this pen at an Office Max, considering they were the only site with a link to the pen.