Thanks to Alt Haven lending me this pen, I got a chance to review the Muji Aluminium Compact Fountain Pen. It is a modern long-short pen, and rather obviously, it’s made of aluminium metal.
A long-short pen is a pen that has a long cap and short barrel, quite unlike the usual fountain pen which usually has a shorter cap than the barrel. The picture above is a comparison of the two Muji Aluminium Pens that have been available so far. I have done a review before of the Muji Aluminium Round fountain pen, so you can do a comparison.
I have a preference toward short pens, and so of course I like this pen, being so small and very easy to slip into a pocket. The thing I didn’t like about it probably is the fact that, while it has a small barrel, it’s a little too small to be very well functional. I tend to grasp a pen in my palm on the barrel side, and pull the cap off. This Muji Compact has such a small barrel that it’s quite difficult for me to remove the cap in this way. Because of this, I have to turn the pen around, grasp the cap side in my palm, and use my fingers to pull off the barrel in order to uncap the pen. It’s not all that crippling, but it does mess around with my habits for a bit. This reminds me that the Ohto Poche fountain pen which I have reviewed before also has this inconvenience. It seems like Muji and Ohto compromised a little bit on that while trying to make a barrel as small as possible.
One thing about the Muji Aluminium Compact fountain pen which is different from the long Round fountain pen is the cap posting mechanism. I’m not sure at all if “mechanism” is the right word to use, but the two pens have a difference in the way you post the cap. For the long Round fountain pen, there is a circular groove at the back of the pen for you to fit the thin cap into. This is a little tricky and needs you to focus in order to fit the cap in properly. The Muji Compact does not have this issue, though. In fact, in order to prevent the feel of metal brushing against metal, they have included a rubber O-ring around the barrel that allows the cap to slide on smoothly. It’s not too bad, indeed. Both the Muji Round and Compact fountain pens, though, have caps that post a little wobbly on the barrel.
The Muji Compact fountain pen is easily taken apart by unscrewing the barrel, and due to its small size, it can only fit an international short cartridge into it. It fits very snugly, so snugly that it has the same issue as the Ohto Poche: the cartridge is lodged within the barrel such that when you unscrew it, the cartridge comes off along with the barrel. Like I said before, not an issue if you only remove the barrel when the ink is depleted, but if you happened to be playing with it, whoops!
The Muji Compact fountain pen actually posts into a surprisingly long and slim fountain pen, which makes it very reasonable in length and thus writing comfort (well, unless you can’t stand slim pens, that is).
As I have mentioned before in my Ohto review, it seemed as if Ohto and Muji are made from the same company, as they have identical nibs and very, very similar designs. Take the photo above as an example: the Ohto Poche Arabesque beside the Muji Compact. Don’t they look like siblings? I’ve even tried to exchange the caps. While the Muji cap fit very well into the Ohto body, the Ohto cap didn’t grip well onto the Muji body.
And if you’re wondering about the writing quality, well, since the nibs are the same, you can expect the performance to be very similar.
It gives feedback on paper, but not so annoyingly obvious that it’s uncomfortable to write with. I guess this can be considered a reasonable buy for this price range, especially if you like aluminium pens. The nib on the Muji Aluminium Round fountain pen is also the same as the one on the Muji Compact. If you look at the picture below, you can see all the similarities. The grip area around the nib differs between the two pens, of course. The Aluminium Round has a textured grip while the Compact has a smooth one.
Check out the review by The Modern Stationer comparing the Muji Aluminium Round and the Muji Compact pens.