Sometimes, I enjoy having a notebook that is filled entirely in the same colour – I really enjoy consistency and where I can do it (usually in smaller pocket notebooks) I do. I find that changing the colours too often in a smaller notebook looks messy to my eye. I have been using Pilot Blue black in my work notebook exclusively, since I started it a few months ago – or so I thought until I realised I had changed inadvertently to Iroshizuku Shin Kai a few weeks ago and wouldn’t have realised except that I have been untidy and left the ink bottle on my desk when I last refilled.
So I decided to do a direct comparison between the two inks to see how similar they were.
From a cost and bottle point of view, the Iroshizuku is a far more luxurious experience with its aesthetically pleasing ink bottle. It is also significantly more expensive and comes in a 15 ml or 50 ml bottle (shown here). The pilot blue black is available in cartridges (to fit Pilot pens only), a 30 ml, 70 ml (shown here) or a massive 350 ml bottle (although this can be difficult to find, depending on your location).
Performance wise, I felt that the Iroshizuku ink was wetter than the Pilot which was more obvious when I wrote with each pen consecutively. The 1.1mm nib on my TWSBI is typically a bit of a pain and runs dry on horizontal strokes and I noticed that it was doing it less with the Iroshizuku compared with the Pilot Blue Black.
The colouring of both inks were similar, I felt that the Iroshizuku was darker than the Pilot Blue Black. At first I thought that this might have been because the Iroshizuku was wetter and wrote darker, but comparing the swatches side by side, it is clear that the Iroshizuku itself is a darker ink altogether.
The Iroshizuku also appears to sheen a little bit more than the Pilot Blue Black. Its very apparent even in the Fabriano and Rhodia papers (on the wider nibs especially) which aren’t typically brilliant sheening papers. The Pilot Blue Black is also quite sheeny, but not as much so as the Iroshizuku – it may be down to the fact that the Iroshizuku is both darker (and so probably more pigmented) and wetter, both factors causing it to exhibit sheening more.
I can’t say that I prefer one over the other significantly – especially since I used them interchangeably without noticing for the past few months. If pressed, I would say the Iroshizuku only because I like the bottle better and being wetter, I can use it in more stubborn nibs and get them working. But the Pilot Blue Black can be had considerably more cheaply and I prefer the slightly lighter and bluer colour that is has.
Both are fantastic inks if you ever fancy getting a reliable (but not water proof) blue black ink and both have an incredible sheen to spice up your work appropriate life.
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