Welcome to the last review of 2020! What better way to end it than to come full circle to my original pilot post with another set of twins. ^_^ I was so happy to find out the Kakuno came with an EF nib. For the longest time, I was certain the Pilot Penmanship was the only entry-level pilot pen that had an EF nib. So of course, I had to go and buy two of them, given how thoroughly I’ve used the penmanship and how I knew I’d want a second one after trying one. I know the reputation of pilot pens already, so without a doubt, I have high hopes for this one.
There is a longer story to this though. I recently had to dispose of one of my penmanships due to potential slime in one of the inks I used in it. So sad. I considered thouroughly cleaning and flushing it, but I figure it has had a great life and since it’s been so long, it wouldn’t be a bad time to retire the pen. I decided to buy a new replacement, and of course during the research stumbled upon the EF nib Kakuno. Since I have surprisingly not bought or tried a Kakuno yet, I figure, why not! The EF nib versions are not easy to come by in Canada. I ended up ordering one from Jet pens, and by the time I found a Canadian source (wonder pens!) it was of course sold out. Every time it gets stocked it runs out…such it is. I ordered the M nib version instead, since that was in high supply, and figure I can always replace the nib with an EF from my penmanship since it’s going into retirement.
In any case, let’s get to it shall we? Final review of 2020 here we go!
Does this pen look super awesome? It’s not bad, but I do love demonstrators.
I’ll be honest, I was never really a fan of the Kakuno look. It always felt a bit bulky to me, and the colour combos weren’t too attractive on a cheap plastic pen such as this. But when I saw the demonstrator version, I did a double take and was sold. I think the Penmanship will still be #1 in my heart, but there’s got to be something special about this one too, if it’s costs a tad more. In any case, this is a solid pen. It is clear plastic, just like the penmanship, uses the same feed and converter, as well as nib. The only major difference is that the Kakuno uses a snap cap versus a twist.
In terms of pen shape, the Kakuno is shorter in length, and also has a full sized cap, unlike the Penmanship’s dinky twist cap, which many have always found strange. Both are capable of posting, but I rarely do that since my caps tend to get so messy with ink. The grips themselves are also slightly different. The Penmanship has a bit more of an ergo grip which is more comfortable, and the nib/feed is also a little further from the grip, making the writing and drawing experience slightly different. I would say the Penmanship’s ergo grip is more comfortable, but I also find I have more control with the Kakuno since the nib is closer to my grip. More on feel below!
The barrel is hexagonal and chunky compared to the thin tapering of the Penmanship. This allows the pen to sit flat on any side and doesn’t roll away. Always a plus. There is a slight tapering in the pen cap that I have never been a fan of in the Kakuno, but since the demonstrator is all clear, it’s not as noticeable and easier on the eyes.
The main feature of the Kakuno, if you don’t know already, is the smiley face on the pen nib. I was always under the impression that each of the EF, F and M nibs have a different kind of face, but it seems like my EF and M nibs have the same face, so I am not so sure anymore. In any case, it is cute and charming and I enjoy it. Like I mentioned before, the nib is essentially the same as the nib on most entry level pilot pens.
If you haven’t noticed already, I’ve been comparing this to the Pilot Penmanship quite a bit in this review. That is because I bought the pen expecting it to be a replacement for my well worn and used Penmanship twins. If you’ve been reading some of my reviews for a time now, you’ll know the Penmanship is the only pen out of everything in the collection that I have used everyday for the last several years consistently without fail. It’s a workhorse of a pen, cheap/easy to replace and it has an EF nib of dreams. I have never had any issues with my pilot EF nib or any pilot nib for that matter. And I expect nothing less from the Kakuno.
Did it pass the test? Of course, Pilot does not disappoint. The nib is smooth with no issues with ink flow, and the line is consistent. There are no hard start/stops unless I’m out of ink, and it’s easy to clean when I pick up too much paper in the nib. The snap cap takes some getting used to, but since it’s so easy to take on and off, I suspect it won’t be an issue. The only worry would be whether the ink dries up faster than the penmanship, but given that I use it so often, I suspect this also won’t be an issue.
I did mention the grip earlier, and it is definitely not as ergonomic as the Penmanship. That doesn’t mean it is uncomfortable though, and for a pen of this level and price, it does the job. It still has a slight triangular grip that is easy to hold, and relatively close to the nib which makes it easy to control when I’m drawing for long sessions.
Speaking of drawing sessions, since I use this nib for all my doodles and linework art, I thought it would be fitting to test out the pen doing some form of city drawing to see how it holds up. I copied work by Kiyohiko Azuma, famous for his manga series Yotsuba and amazingly detailed background art. I am no Azuma, but his work is excellent for practicing and trying to get better. This pen does the trick, it has arguably a thinner drawn line than my old Penmanship, but that’s likely due to the wear/use on the older pen while this one is brand new.
I almost forgot to mention the M nib. It will get used less, but that isn’t to leave it in the shadows since it is an equally excellent nib. The ink flow is superb as is with the EF. If anything, perhaps it might gush a little more than I’d like, since it tends to seep through my thinner sketchbook papers. Otherwise, I may actually start using it as well for adding lineweights to the doodles.
I am thoroughly looking forward to making the switch, and excited that I have a new set of twins to add to the collection!
This one is easy, a $12 ($18 CAD) pen that is going to get as much use as my Penmanship? Easily worth it. It’s also one of those entry level pens that you can’t be disappointed in because it works so well. It writes so smoothly, it’s easy to clean, and it’s perfect for beginners and long-time users alike. Granted if you started with this pen, there is plenty of pens in the penworld to lure you away. But if you’re anything like me, I’ll buy an expensive pen and still double back on this EF nib because there’s just nothing like it.
- cheap but well made
- demonstrator to see your ink
- nib is excellent
- snap cap is convenient
- plastic is sturdy but can still be broken with enough force
- need to purchase converter separately
No ink section, since I will likely be inking these pens with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness exclusively and I’ve talked about it before in Bun Bun & The Moon. Thanks for tuning in for my last review of 2020. Stick around in the early new year when I roll out my Holiday Haul of 2020. Cheerio and here’s to a better 2021.