Pilot’s Iroshizuku line of inks has become incredibly popular in the last couple of years thanks to its agreeable performance and excellent color palette. Despite Iroshizuku’s success Pilot still produces it’s original more affordable ink line that is simply branded as “Pilot” (or “Namiki …or “Pilot/Namiki”).
It is my understanding that these inks have a ph of over 7 making them basic and as such I would caution against putting them in a pen where ink makes direct contact with celluloid.
This line comes in bottle and cartridge formats. The cartridges only fit Pilot and Namiki pens. There are seven colors produced in the cartridge format. In bottle format I have only seen three colors: blue, black, and blue black.
Pilot Blue Black is a bit pale for my tastes but the upshot is some nice subtle shading. The ink provides some good lubrication, making it a great choice for dryer writing pens. I had no issues with bleeding or feathering. I also saw no nib creep (as is common for lubricating inks). I found that this ink was easy to clean out unlike Pilot Blue which has a tendency to stain.
Packs of 12 cartridges go for $7 and 60ml bottles go for $12. The affordable price makes Pilot Blue Black a great workhorse ink that would be appropriate for the office and general correspondence.
As a general rule, I do not purchase ink while traveling. My reasoning is that if a $15 bottle of ink breaks in my luggage I would be out hundreds of dollars in ruined clothes. Yes, I broke my rule.
On my way out of Itoya in Tokyo (after buying some pens I didn’t need) I saw some well-packaged mini bottles of Iroshizuku in a lovely presentation box and that was that…I picked the three colors I wanted and here we are: The Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo Fountain Pen Ink Review.
Yama-Budo in Japanese means “Crimson Glory Vine” and it is a pinkish burgundy color that I really like. Like all Iroshizuku inks, it performs beautifully, well-behaved with a good flow. This ink has really nice shading to it.
This ink isn’t really appropriate for a professional setting but it is a fun color that looks great in a demonstrator.
I am not sure I could go through a full-size 50ml bottle of this one but I feel confident that I will be able to make my way through 15ml.
So first I want to start by saying that 50ml of this ink retails for $35 and can be had online for $28. In my experience Pilot Iroshizuku inks are well behaved and have a satisfactory flow. I am not certain however, that the consistent quality and beautiful bottle justify the price. I have found that other inks half the price are as good or better in some cases. My point: don’t think that for $35 you are going to get some kind of magical ink that is beyond the rest. If you fall in love with one of the Iroshizuku colors, go for it you wont be disappointed.
On to Shin-ryoku:
This ink in my opinion is very close to J. Herbin Lierre de Sauvage (I would do a comparison but my bottle had mold in it so I threw it out *harumph*). The translation of the name is “forest green” and the color is quite nice, particularly vibrant when wet. When it dries it ends up looking a bit flat which is disappointing. Shin-ryoku offers some nice shading (harder to see with the fine nib on my Cross) and like all Iroshizuku inks I have tried, no issues with feathering. Dry time is faster than most inks on Maruman Smooth-To-Write paper. The ink is not waterproof. I wont be purchasing a bottle of this one as Lierre de Sauvage is more vibrant when dried (I will be crossing my fingers that my next bottle wont have a mold problem).
Here are some great reviews of Shin-ryoku:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)