Brush Pen Review: Pentel Kirari Portable Brush Pen

I suppose I'm pretty susceptible to well written spin.  As a kid, I was convinced that Mondo fruit drinks would be all that was promised, as a teen, I firmly believed I needed one of those translucent Apples in order to achieve ultimate teen coolness.  And as an adult, if you can write spin good enough, I'll probably fork over the money.

On the Jetpens site, the description for the Kirari Portable Brush pen sounded extremely promising.

This Kirari brush pen contains bold ink in a gorgeous, light metallic body. Simple and sophisticated, this pen will add a touch of class to your collection. The medium nylon brush tip is excellent for creating dramatic stroke variation in calligraphy and illustrations, and the lightweight plastic body makes the pen easy to carry. This pen comes with beautifully vivid black pigment ink that is lightfast and water-resistant. Also enclosed is a small pamphlet, which contains diagrams demonstrating how to write beautiful Japanese and Chinese characters.

Two black pigment ink FP10 cartridges are included, and additional cartridges are available separately.
I mean seriously, doesn't that sound like you're getting something good?  It's certainly more enticing than the Pentel Pocketbrush listing, Pentel's other major bristle nibbed brushpen.
Bring the elegance of Asian calligraphy to your artwork and writing. These high-quality brush pens from Pentel can form thin lines or thick lines, creating a variety of effects. Writes smoothly and conveniently refills with cartridges. Each pen comes with 2 refill cartridges. The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy and the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen + 2 Refill Cartridges listed on our site are the same product but the former is branded for Japan and the latter is branded for the US.

So what sets the Kirari apart from the Pentel Pocketbrush?  Let's open the package and find out!

The Packaging

The Kirari comes in a plastic clamshell case with two ink refills.  If you aren't hot on the ink that comes with it (it's a bit grayish), you can refill empty cartridges with any ink but acrylic.  I wrote a post about refilling existing empty ink cartridges awhile back that might be helpful!

Included in the package is a little pamphlet in Japanese that covers basic strokes.

The Pen

As soon as I uncapped the Kirari, I realized it was basically a pink Pocketbrush.  I pulled out my 4 year old Pocketbrush for comparison.

There's four basic parts to both the Kirari Portable Brush Pen and the Pentel Pocketbrush: the cap, the nib, the ink cartridge, and the body of the pen itself.  Visually, the only real difference is the color of the body, both pens are made of lightweight plastic.

An issue common to both Pocketbrushes and Portable Brushes is that if the ink cartridge isn't jammed onto the tip, it'll get stuck in the barrel and leak everywhere.  You can remove it with tweezers or needle nosed pliers.

Because the Pentel Kirari is so similar to the Pentel PocketBrush, I didn't bother to do a field test, as I've used a Pocketbrush for years.  I don't personally care for the Pocketbrush, or the Kirari by extension, for inking, but I do use it for fills.  The bristles have too much snap for what I usually want, and the Pentel Pocketbrush is prone to giving a drybrush effect.
The Verdict
The Kirari is basically a Pentel Pocketbrush, at a higher pricepoint- $16.50 vs $13.50.  The additional three dollars doesn't net you a metal-bodied pen, as the Kirari is just a plastic pen with a metallic finish.  In my opinion, you're better off just buying a regular Pocketbrush for your money, as the two pens are pretty much identical from a performance point of view.


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