Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai

Shin-Kai (Deep Sea) is one of the three final Pilot Iroshizuku inks to complete the line. These inks, aside from looking great in the bottle, have typically be renown for smooth flow, not drying on the nib, pleasant colors, easy of cleaning, and fast dry-time.

Shin-Kai is a blue-black ink that has a strong gray and purple/red tint to it. I find it to be a rather interesting and unique color from most other ones in this range. It's particularly interesting because it seems to have better shading than most other blue-black inks.  You can see how and why I do my reviews in this format here. I did the review with a Lamy Al-Star with a medium steel nib, mainly because I enjoy it and I know it's a pen that you're likely familiar with, if you don't already have one.

Ocean Blue Lamy Al-Star, my standard pen for doing ink tests

Here's my full Shin-Kai review:

This ink is a really interesting one to me. It's not like other blue-blacks, especially when you first open the bottle. It almost looks like Kon-Peki when you look at the wet ink on the inside of the bottle cap. When you first put ink down on the page, it's almost a bright royal blue, but then quickly turns much darker and more gray. It's pretty fascinating to see, actually! I show it in the video. You may also notice a red sheen to the ink on the heavier swabs I did. That's not something I saw come out with my 'normal' writing, but it's probably something you could bring out with a really wet pen.

Blue-black inks are pretty common, it's usually one of the first inks in an ink line, next to black. But not all blue-blacks are created equal. Here are a few that I think are somewhat close to Shin-Kai, or at least ones that are popular and worth comparing.

So am I impressed with this ink? The dry time isn't as short as I'd hoped, and that stinks because that's the attribute I desired the most. But it still flows amazingly well, cleans easily, and it still dries in a respectable time. While Noodler's 54th Massachusetts is pretty much my go-to blue-black ink, Shin-Kai definitely has a different appeal, especially with the way the color changes from wet to dry, that's a pretty fun thing to see happen. I think for anyone that really likes Tsuki-yo and wanted something that was a little less navy and more of a true blue-black, Shin-Kai will probably work out great for you. At $28 per 50ml bottle ($35 list), it's definitely not cheap. But, at least now you have a little more information before you spend your hard-earned pennies.

I'd love to know your thoughts! Let me know what you think in the comments.


  1. Is this ink iron gall or something of the like? Or is it simply a dye ink? It'd be nice to have such an ink that changes color yet is still dye based to avoid the cleaning requirements :O

  2. I don't think so, I believe it is just conventional fountain pen ink. Iron gall inks usually darken over a series of days or weeks, not this quickly.

  3. Several times you have mentioned that the three new Iro inks "complete the line". Have you received info that indicates that the folks at Pilot are not going to introduce any further colors? Or does this complete the line because the additions were so obviously missing from the previously available selection?

  4. Thanks, this was a great introduction - it looks like a very attractive color indeed. I know photographs can vary, but the swab looks lighter than your writing samples in the review. Did you get that impression too? i like Sailor Jentle blue black, but Shin-Kai looks to have just a bit more vitality.


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