So, when I read that Sailor was issuing a Blue-Black colour along the same lines of Kiwaguro ink, I'll admit that my appetite was keenly whetted to try the ink for myself. It was then a matter to order it from Taizo at Engeika by e-mail and then waiting. The wait was very short. I ordered it at the end the week ten days back, it was shipped on the Monday, and last Friday it arrived. Customer service still has high value in Japan !
What's the verdict on this ink ?
Well, right to the point, Sailor Sei boku Blue-Black Nano Ink (AKA Sailor Kiwaguro Nano Blue-Black Ink - see postscript notes below) is superb, simply superb.
Sei boku Blue-Black Nano ink is an exceptional complement to the excellent Kiwaguro Nano Carbon Black ink. It has a suitable amount of shading amongst all of the smooth lubricated flow on paper, doesn't feather noticeably without using a loope to look at the paper, and has zip (that's none at all) nib creep. As much as I like some ink manufacturers' products with respect to water resistance/proof characteristics, I very much dislike significant nib creep, to the point that I have several inks sitting unused despite the great colours that they exhibit.
Now, in fairness, the Sei boku Blue-Black ink is not quite as smoothly lubricated as the Nano Carbon Black ink, but the difference is small for me with my pens and nibs, perceptible, yes, but small. The feel of pen nib on paper isn't as extremely lubricated as some other inks, but it's nonetheless very much smooth, and the ink line goes down in an extremely controlled manner. I didn't at any point find that the ink was gushing onto the paper with my cursive italic nibs, so that the line variation was predictable and good (albeit my penmanship may not be working to the limits of the nibs... <wry smile>). Even the Pelikan 2.0 calligraphic nib, notorious in my experience for very dry starts, produced smooth clean lines.
Now, people who have extremely dry nibs and thus desire extremely lubricated, very "wet" inks may find this less of an exciting ink than I do. My nibs probably fall into the 6.0 - 7.5 range of wetness, giving always adequate liquid on demand, but by no means "wet noodle" status, or even close. Using a CI nib with relatively little flex, in my personal opinion, calls for a bit more controlled ink output. I haven't tested the ink yet in a flex nib to decide if this is an issue in that application.
There are a few limitations to my comments.
I didn't do smear or drying tests right now, because the relative humidity here was so darned low that I didn't think either test would yield repeatable results for folks at sea-level or in more humid conditions. Also, I'm not running exhaustive tests on the ink for just how "permanent" it is using solvents, light, boiling water or bleach. It's waterfast enough to address letters getting dropped in snow, as I've already discovered, and I'll leave the torture tests to some other folks. Unlike the Sailor Kiwaguro Nano Carbon Black ink, I haven't tested this extensively in six or seven different pens. It's been in three Pelikans, two modern, one vintage, with a medium CI, a broad CI, and a 2.0 calligraphic nib. Given that I've only had the ink for three days, it's difficult to predict long term staining issues at this point, although the pen I switched out of the ink today showed absolutely no staining or residue. I had absolutely no problems with the Kiwaguro Nano Carbon Black, but then, as the investment folks will tell us, past performance is no guarantee of future success.
The scans probably are yielding a bit more "bright" blue colour to the shading than I'm seeing in front of me, so look at the scans with that in mind. It's still a handsomely shaded ink with the 2.0 nib, but doesn't "pop" quite as much as the scan would indicate. For me, that's all to the good, as I want my blue-black inks to have a certain gravitas - I'll pull out one of my Herbin or Iroshizuku or Noodlers inks for that "pop".
What about the cost of the ink ?
Some people may cavil at the price of the ink. Fair and well enough for those people. I would expect to see JetPens or Swisher Pens (no affiliation with either, alas) eventually carry this ink here in the United States with lower shipping costs, but that's not the case as yet. That said, I consider my purchase from Japan to be very good value for the performance that I've so far achieved, and the incremental cost per fill of my pens is well tolerated through the pleasure of the pen on paper with this ink. I'd calculate that the difference in my net cost between this ink and another quality ink, even allowing for the shipping from Japan, could be anywhere from two to four fancy coffee drinks at Starbucks, which I don't buy in any event... In short, I think that this is a worthwhile ink investment for me.
The bottom line here is that I think I've discovered my new "go to" blue-black ink. It's stable in my pens, writes smoothly, lays down a scrumptious line. What's not to like about this ink ?
As a note per the Federal Trade Commission Guidelines related to blogging published in October 2009, I purchased this ink myself from Engeika, which came roughly seven days after web-based purchase from Japan to the United States. I am not paid in any fashion for my opinion or provided with free ink from the vendor or ink-maker.
P.S. This ink is referred to in some places as "Kiwa gura" or "Kiwa guro" Blue-Black Nano Ink, but I've been made aware that the usage is not strictly correct. See Neill's post below for an informed discussion on this point, and thanks very much for the correction, Neill ! Those people who want to purchase this ink from the same location can find it, with the "Kiwa gura" name at the Engeika eBay site. As a note, I am not, however, going to redo the review forms with the samples.
Edited by PJohnP, 14 December 2009 - 22:49.