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Ink Shoot-Out : Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo Vs Callifolio Oconto


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Ink Shoot-Out : iroshizuku tsuki-yo vs Callifolio Oconto


Over the past few years I've acquired a taste for dusty, murky and quirky inks - perfect for personal journaling, but not always suited for a more formal setting. Blue-blacks are a staple for use at the office, and always a safe choice. But when you want something a bit more daring, you just might reach for blue inks with a little bit of a green undertone. Two inks in this category are Pilot iroshizuku tsuki-yo and L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Oconto. Tsuki-yo is my go-to ink in this category, but recently I noticed that Oconto is another player on this field. Time do to a detailed comparison, and find out which of these inks I like the most.




Enter... the Ink Shoot-Out. A brutal fight spanning five rounds, where heavyweight inks do battle to determine who is the winner. In the left corner - the Japanese king of the ring: Pilot iroshizuku tsuki-yo. In the right corner, the challenger from southern France, L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Oconto. Which champion will remain standing at the end of the fight ? Let's find out...


Round 1 - First Impressions




Both inks certainly are attractive liquids, that are quite a home in a more formal business setting. Both are also just slightly off-blue, with a tiny bit of a green undertone. In writing, they look quite similar, but there are some differences:
  • Tsuki-yo is a bit greener than Oconto, which is quite evident in swabs, but less so in normal writing.
  • Oconto is definitely less lubricated than the Japanese ink, it writes a bit on the dry side with noticeable feeback from the paper.
  • Tsuki-yo is a bit more saturated than the French ink. This is also most apparent in the swabs.
On first impression I preferred the slightly less green appearance of Callifolio Oconto. On the other hand, the Japanese ink clearly is the better writer with superior lubrication and saturation. In a sense - I was torn between the two, and found myself wishing for the best aspects of the two: the colour of Oconto, and the lubrication/saturation of tsuki-yo. As such, this round ends in a draw. No clear winner emerges.
Round 2 - Writing Sample

The writing sample was done on Rhodia N°16 Notepad with 80 gsm paper. Both inks behaved flawlessly, with no feathering and no show-through or bleed-through. Iroshizuku tsuki-yo wrote like a dream, with very good ink flow and lubrication, and leaving a well saturated line. In contrast, Callifolio Oconto is much less lubricated, and feels much drier. This is especially noticeable with the EF nib. The Callifolio ink needs broader nibs for a satisfying writing experience.
Colourwise both inks look very similar in writing, although there is definitely more of a green undertone in the iroshizuku ink. Both inks also shade nicely, without too much contrast between light and dark parts. This aesthetically pleasing shading gives more character to your writing.
For this round, the focus is on writing, and here the Japanese ink clearly has the upper hand, with undeniably superior flow, lubrication and saturation. A solid win for Pilot iroshizuku tsuki-yo.


Round 3 - Pen on Paper




This round allows the batlling inks to show how they behave on a range of fine writing papers. From top to bottom, we have : FantasticPaper, Life Noble, Tomoe River and Original Crown Mill cotton paper. All scribbling and writing was done with a Lamy Safari M-nib.
Both champions did well, with no show-through nor bleed-through. But this round is not about technicalities, it is about aesthetics and beauty. Are the fighters able to make the paper shine ?
For this judge, the choice is clear. Tsuki-yo has a very consistent look and feel across the paper types. In comparison, Oconto looks much more washed-out and undersaturated. I really like how tsuki-yo makes the most of the paper, and manages to look good no matter which paper you use. Callifolio Oconto tries its best, but cannot compete. Being much less saturated, it has trouble to make the paper shine. So for this round, tsuki-yo clearly has the upper hand and is granted the victory.
Round 4 - Ink Properties
Both inks have drying times at around the 10 second mark on the Rhodia paper. But at this point, the similarity ends. On the smudge test, where a moist Q-tip cotton swab is drawn across the text lines, the Japanese ink clearly shows its lack of water resistance with significant smudging of the text. This gets confirmed in the droplet test. I dripped water onto the grid and let it sit there for 15 minutes, after which I removed the water with a paper kitchen towel. With iroshizuku, a blue mess results, with barely reconstructible writing. Oconto on the other hand shows itself to be a very water-resistant ink ! This is an ink you can take down the trenches. The Japanese opponent is completely obliterated (figuratively speaking, but also quite literally).

The chromatography shows that tsuki-yo leaves a bluish residue that is almost indistinguishable from the smudges that detach from the paper. Oconto on the other hand leaves a firm blue fingerprint of your text - only the more greenish undertones of the inks get flushed away when coming into contact with water.
For this round, the Callifolio ink is clearly the superior, and delivers a resounding knock-out to its Japanese opponent. The crowds are cheering!


Round 5 - The Fun Factor




Welcome to the final round. Here I give you a purely personal impression of both inks, where I judge which of them I like most when doing some fun stuff like doodling and drawing. Both inks do well, and allow for some nice effects when using a water brush. I really enjoyed using them.
For drawing, iroshizuku tsuki-yo has the advantage though. For one, the more greenish undertones make it the more interesting ink for drawing. And its low water resistance makes it a really great ink when used with a water brush to obtain watercolour-like effects. Callifolio Oconto also looks good, but for drawing, its strong water resistance is more a drawback than an advantage.
This is of course a purely personal judgement, but for this round the Japanese ink gets the judge's favour, and is granted victory.
The Verdict
Both inks are beautiful, slightly off-blue inks that are a great choice for a more formal setting. I love them both. But counting the points, the story is clear: iroshizuku tsuki-yo wins three rounds, while its French opponent manages only one win. This fight clearly has a definite winner : iroshizuku tsuki-yo remains the king of the ring !
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As a Tsukionist I can only approve the recognition of Tsukionism superiority

Edited by KaB



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Love your review full of information and humor. Please do more.

Love all, trust a few, do harm to none. Shakespeare

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Great shootout evaluation! I truly love both inks for different reasons. Oconto is great for business while Tsuki-yo is so smooth.

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today




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I never thanked you for the shoot-outs, so now I do. I love the reviews and before I buy an ink I always check out if there is a shoot out.

Thank you very much for all your efforts!!!

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HA HA !!!... AWESOME SHOOTOUT!!!!! :lol: :lol:



I will call SHENANIGANS on the Fun Factor Drawing... is too perfect... That was PHOTOSHOPED!!!... :lticaptd:




Thanks so much for this lovely review/shootout.





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**** MORE.... Robert Oster Signature INKS ****


"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it's the illusion of knowledge." -Stephen Hawking,

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Interesting, pleasing to the mind and eyes. I enjoyed your style and thoroughness. Thanks for all the effort you've put in here. Love your art work.

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Thanks -- that was great fun. I prefer Tsuki-Yo. When it seemed like Petrol ink was never going to come out, I bought this for my Petrol. It's a great match.

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I love these shoot-outs. Your illustrations are such fun, and your evaluations are so rigorous. I often find that I have one of the inks but not the other, and then I find myself rooting for the ink I've got. This time it won, but in the past I haven't been so lucky. (Then I find myself looking for ways to persuade myself that I prefer the properties that lost it points, or that I don't really care too much about the characteristics that gave the competitor the victory.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I love the shoot outs. Thank you.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY







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  • 7 months later...

Great fun! Your shoot-outs are superb! Love the shading of the Tsuki-yo. Your chromatography is most illuminating in all your shoot-outs. thanks!

Edited by eyesa
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