Muji, a Japanese retail company, has been slowly entering the United States from the coasts, with stores in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and California. From across the Ocean, the company has brought its sense of frugalness, selling “no-brand” items like this gel pen that has no proper name, logo, or any such marking, aside from a “0.38” tip-size indicator located on the top of the cap.
This Muji gel pen is lightweight, thick-barreled, and made of a soft plastic that makes it fairly comfortable to grip. On the other hand, the plastic body feels fairly cheap, and even though the cap secures and posts well, it comes with a very flimsy clip. Overall, the style is similar to the Sakura Gelly Roll and the Baoke Simple.
But one very good feature of this Muji gel pen is its ink. It flows out clean, and it barely smears. It also produces a satisfyingly dark black, and, considering its 0.38mm tip size, it flows out fairly smooth.
This pen is certainly not the best gel you’ll find – I’d consider it middle of the pack. But if you’re a fan of fine-tipped gel pens and happen across a Muji store, it’d be worth your while grab a couple. They are fairly inexpensive, and, if nothing else, it’s different enough from the typical gel pen found in American stores to at least make it interesting.
Picture a Pilot G-2 with a spring-loaded clip, and you’ll have a good idea of what the Pilot Juice is all about. Like the G-2, the Juice has the clear-plastic body and black trim that looks like so many other pens you’ll find on most store shelves – I call it the “premium plastic” style. But that isn’t to say that the Juice is a bad pen, and, to the contrary, it’s probably a lot better than most of the other pens in its category.
Compared to the G-2, the Juice’s ink is a bit smoother, the grip is a little softer, and the refill lacks that ugly brown gunk. And while these minor improvements might not make anyone go out of their way, the Juice’s aforementioned spring-loaded clip might. Never underestimate the usefulness of a good clip. Whether attaching it to a notebook or a pocket, it’s nice having a pen that knows how to stay put.
It’s easy to see that the Pilot Juice is a good gel-ink pen, but its competition can’t be ignored either. For my money, the Juice still doesn’t beat the nearly smear-free ink and the professional look of pens like the Pentel Energel and the uni-ball Signo 207. However, if the Juice’s spring-loaded clip speaks to you, it might be worth a try.
According to the advertising, the Pilot G-2 is “America’s #1 selling gel ink pen.” I can’t say I’m surprised by this. Walk into any convenience, grocery, or big-box store, and you’ll find more colors and varieties of the Pilot G-2 than are available for any other pen line. But is it just good marketing or do people buy G-2s because they are actually good pens? I think it’s a bit of both.
The aesthetic design of the pen is nothing to write home about. It’s mostly clear plastic with black trim, a rubber grip, and the G-2 branding printed on the clip in big, bold letters. I have to also point out the ugly, rust-colored blob of gunk at the top of the refill. This gunk – which I assume helps hold in the ink – is clear in a lot of similar pens, but Pilot has chosen to keep and prominently display this odd coloration in the G-2. Maybe it has something to do with branding.
Beyond that, it’s a decent gel ink pen. It’s comfortable to hold, and this 0.38mm version writes steady lines with little smearing or skipping. While there might be better gel pens out there, I’d be happy to grab one of these off the shelf any day.