I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been a lazy pen blogger lately. I’ve let my stockpile of pens and pencils “to review” accumulate to an insane degree, so I have to get on it. I’ve been stuck in a cycle of indecision, going back and forth over what direction I want the blog to take, what kind of stuff I want to focus on, etc., but at the end of the day, this blog is more or less a reflection of my personal usage and writing habits, and I use pretty much anything I have at hand as long as it offers a decent writing experience.
So, back to where I’ve been meaning to start since the beginning. My office stocks Zebra Sarasas as the “supply cabinet” pen. The Sarasa is an unusual choice, but it’s been there for years, ever since I’ve joined my current company back in 2008. Prior to that, there was a stockpile of custom-printed Bic rollerballs with our firm logo on them (which were actually pretty decent, and I still grab them when I can find them), but at some point the choice was made to move to the retractable gel pens in .7mm tip size. But why the Sarasa over the Pilot G2, or the Uniball Signo 207, its two primary competitors? I’ve never been able to get an explanation for this, and I’ve been left to assume that someone who worked in human resources must have really, really liked the Sarasa (or got a really, really good deal on 2 million of them seven years ago).
The Sarasa is the reason that my pen hobby/habit reemerged with a vengeance a few years ago. I hate those things. With a passion. I’ve written about this before, when I reviewed the Pilot G2, but the .7mm Sarasa blobs and smears to a degree that makes it nearly unusable to me. The blue is worse than the black. The red is ok, and I like red ink, so on that rare occasion that I’m forced to grab something out of the supply cabinet, and I can’t find a pencil, I’ll grab a red Sarasa.
So this general dislike of the Sarasas is the reason I’ve been reluctant to pick up another highly regarded Japanese gel pen, the Zebra Sarasa Clip, which I finally caved and purchased this past weekend during my visit to Kinokuniya in New York City. Here are my takeaways:
The Sarasa Clip is a completely different pen. Build-wise, most people would consider this to be a “lower-end” pen than the standard Sarasa. The Clip has a slightly more slender body, the knock on the pen is looser, and the grip section of the pen has less cushion. It cost me less than $2. BUT, the refill is much better, in my opinion. It has none of the blobbing and smearing that I can’t stand about the general Sarasa. Some of this is due to my personal preferences as to tip size: the Clip comes in a .38mm tip size, which puts less ink on the page, and the less ink on the page, the less blobbing, smearing, etc. But part of it is due to the quality of the refill itself. I’m not a huge fan of the Pilot Juice, even in the .38mm tip size, and I like Pilot pens. There’s something about certain refills, and their varying ink formulations, that make them more or less pleasurable to write with. The Clip passes the test.
The one issue some may have with the Sarasa Clip is, well, the clip. It’s huge, and has a massive logo on it, which is written in Japanese characters that I have zero ability to translate. It’s not something that would stop me from using the pen, but I can see how it might look disproportionate to the size of the pen. It is spring-loaded, however, unlike its brethren, so the clip will stay put.
The Clip is available in a huge range of colors. You can purchase them from Jetpens (link here), as well as at Kinokuniya if you are in New York, San Francisco, or other cities with a Kinokuniya or Maido location. Another bonus: the Clip is cheap. I think I paid $1.75 for this one, compared with $3.95 for a Hi-Tec-C. (Jetpens sells the Clip for $2.20, last I checked, the Hi-Tec-C for $3.30, and the Signo DX for $2.50.)