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  1. Buying from Daiso these days is trickier than it used to be. Some items are no longer sold at the headline (and baseline) price that serves as the primary drawcard to get prospective customers browsing, and I'd hazard a guess that most of the items in the store are not made in Japan. Nevertheless, when I have some time to kill, I pop in and look for products that are made in Japan and offered at the brand's baseline price. I picked up one of the B7-sized, 7mm-ruled memo pad in the D-98 series — which, if I'm not mistaken, covers different sizes of the same make — the other day to give it a whirl. This product series has the sort of styling that is seen in numerous Japanese notebooks, including some of the Apica ones; but, unlike the Apica notebooks I have, the colour of the paper in Daiso's D-98 series is cream instead of white. These memo pads are offered with blank pages (and a white top cover) and 5mm line grid paper (with a crimson top cover) as well. The paper weight is not specified, but at a rough guess it's no less than 80g/m². The pad contains 100 sheets and is about 12mm thick including the covers. Binding is by glue at the top edge in portrait orientation, so the entire surface area of each sheet is available on which to be written; that's a plus, with the caveat that the pages can come loose if you tug on it the 'wrong' way, stick a thick-enough backing sheet between pages, or bend a sheet backwards across the spine. The lines are only printed on the recto side, and they are narrow enough and light enough (in a bluish grey colour) so as not to be obtrusive. The verso side of each page is blank; that's another feature I personally like in smaller notepads such as this. Size-wise, it's far more usable than A7 notepads I've tried recently, and at 100 pages per pad I'd argue this product offers better practical value (for the same price) than, say, the 'Smart Working' A7 dot grid notepad which is another Daiso-branded product. But what about performance when used with fountain pen and inks? Sheen: You can get sheen from some inks on the paper in this memo pad, but nowhere near the monster sheen from the 'Smart Working' notepad; and, Platinum Carbon Black and Sailor souboku pigment inks do not exhibit sheen on the Daiso D-98 series as far as I've observed. That might be a good or bad thing, depending on your preferences, especially when it comes to the use of 'sombre' (and waterproof!) black and blue-black inks. (Check out the difference in performance of Diamine Iridescink Robert on those two products, though.) Bleed-through: In spite of having thicker paper than in the Daiso 'Smart Working' notepad or Maruman m.memo notepad, I observed more bleed-through with the paper in the D-98 series. However, I'm really talking about a few tiny spots, and only with Platinum Carbon Black (from a Fine nib) and Sailor Shikiori yodaki (from a Stub nib, which I don't imagine would be the common choice of pen/nib to use on a small A7- or B7-sized notepad). Ghosting or show-through: This paper is more resistant to show-through of writing on the other side of the page than either the 'Smart Working' or m.memo pads, by virtue of being significantly thicker in each sheet. Feathering: There is a tiny bit of feathering observed with some inks, when I look closely enough, but I haven't tested this thoroughly enough to conclude whether that's the result of the coating being compromised by skin oils and such in certain spots on the page. On the whole, there is little or no feathering with a variety of fountain pen inks. The coating on this paper seems to pick up (and be observably affected by) oils and grease rather readily. Even though my eyes couldn't pick up the spots of grease on the paper while I was looking at it, my camera had no problem capturing them in photos that weren't specifically focused on doing so. Overall, I'd say the paper quality and coating resilience is best in the Maruman m.memo notepad, then the Daiso 'Smart Working' notepad, and only then this Daiso D-98 series memo pad. However, for the thickness of paper and larger surface area that the latter offers, it is arguably better value than the first two, especially if you prefer cream-coloured paper to bright white or a coolish 'off-white' grey. Would I buy more of these? Probably, but only because the 'Smart Working' notepad is not available in B7 or A6 size (with few pages if need be), as far as I'm aware.

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