I ignore the minutiae of Japanese pen manufacturing. Nevertheless, from the vantage point of a final user, I am only poised to say that indeed, Japanese nibs are finer than the ones that come from western manufacturing. I can only presume that this is due to the writing tradition, or rather the mechanics of the Japanese written language. But why is it necessary to have a fine nib to print on paper the beautiful kana, with which I struggled some years ago unfortunately to no avail? Or is it the case that the ideographic languages need fine nibs, the languages that use ideograms to encapsulate syllables rather than letters, words, sentences? I simply do not know.
The Pilot Metropolitan is a Japanese nib fountain pen positioned on the lower spectrum of prices. I bought mine when I spent some time at Harvard during Summer 2016, from a very nice pen store that is around Harvard Square (Bob Slate Stationer). A sweet lady was keen to show me fountain pens that are easier to find in the US compared to Europe, and I ended up getting some lovely items – and some paraphernalia, from writing pads to Smead folders.
This pen has a slender form.
It has a nice classic shape. It is rather slim in size, light, and with beautiful embellishments in the otherwise entirely black body. Nice clip, somehow tight, with no particular ornaments – although, the series seems to be expanding the scope of color variations and patterns recently. To me, this design choice is similar to the timeless classic Lamy 2000.
This pen is a non-expensive item, but it doesn’t “feel” like being cheap. It is an excellent writing instrument, one that can easily serve as an office tool as much as a leisure item. For we know very well, dear readers, that our kin is one that appreciates not only labor but also leisure. To my mind, a pen is first and foremost a companion to analog writing, an item that whose intrinsic value is drawn from the countless hours of one-to-one companionship, be it on the road or in the late evening hours of recollection, reflection, or solitude.
The fountain pen comes with a weird converter. I have a feeling that this converter is the remnant of an industrial evolution, something like an old hand-manufactured converter that is found on vintage pens. Think of the following: a pouch container is squeezed by exercising pressure with two metal tines on each side, then dipped into the ink bottle; releasing the tines will induce an air-pressure difference between the end of the pouch that is immersed in the ink bottle and the squeezed container cavity. This move will make ink flow into the pouch. In my opinion, this configuration is a rather inefficient way to equip a pen with a converter. One should be ready to buy cartridges.
But what attracts me to this pen is the reflection of the light on the black surface, an image that would usually constitute a contradiction in terms. The more so, since the surface is really mat. Like everything in this analog world, a fully-light-absorbant black surface is impossible to put in place. We have to make do with approximations.
I used this pen extensively with Noodler’s Midnight Blue ink, a Massachusetts-based ink company whose packaging leaves some things to be desired. I ended up choosing J. Herbin’s Perle noire (pictured), which behaves in a more efficient manner with this nib.
With all these qualifiers, I can say that I really enjoyed this pen. I have a seasonal preference for fine nibs, but a constant one for smooth ones. This pen has been expressive enough to qualify for regular use. I will keep it, inked and loaded, on my office tray.
- Office dwellers, that keep a bottle of ink in their table tray, for this pen will run out of ink after some pages of writing.
- Any fountain-pen amateur, who wants to enter the universe of analog writing with an inexpensive fountain pen that is not cheap at the same time.
- A seventies-lover like me, for this design reminds me of a design choice that is just a step away from the 50s and 60s classic design choices.