Review – Muji Bunkobon Notebooks (Thin/Regular)

I’ve had a couple Muji notebooks in the queue to review for quite some time now, and ironically it’s the product that I have most recently purchased that’s making its way to my metaphorical “review table” first. Muji has a reputation of being both minimalist and high quality, and Japan in general is often seen as being more focused on a good writing experience, but do Muji’s inexpensive Bunkobon notebooks live up to the expectations?

photo 1-73

When looking at aesthetics, the exterior is about as minimal as one can get: a brown “craft” paper cover with a smooth (not glossy, but definitely coated) finish wraps the whole book, only interrupted by a barcode sticker on the back. Inside, the pages are blank with no additional features (no name page or back pocket) save a red ribbon bookmark.

photo 5-24

The paper is a pleasant off-white with a very smooth texture. For how thin it is, it does a very good job of holding up. Almost any mark you make has “show through” where it can be seen from the other side of the paper, and with pens this quickly renders the reverse side unusable (I never use it anyway), but in most cases this doesn’t result in “bleedthrough” where marks appear on the next page. Gel and fountain pens work fine, but Sharpies and calligraphic pens are too much for it to bear (though only barely, it seems). The actual experience of writing on the paper is also quite pleasant, it’s got just a little bit of tooth to remind you that you are indeed writing, but most pens just glide across. For me personally, it sometimes feels a bit slippy or like I’m losing control, however, I have the same problem with the gel pens that everyone else in the world loves.

photo 2-71

The book comes in two (very reasonably {but not proportionally} priced) sizes, regular with 144 sheets, and slim with 50. And the larger size would excite me more if I didn’t have a few issues with durability. These 4 1/8 x 5 ¾ book’s covers are only a piece of slightly thicker paper, and on the top this overhangs a sixteenth of an inch beyond the one side of the book with a deckled edge. This quickly creates bent corners and a curled-in top area (I unsuccessfully tried cutting this excess off my slim, and it now looks like I’d imagine it would after a little while of constant use), which might be overlooked if the cover itself wasn’t so fragile and easily bent. Even I, a man who is very careful with all of his possessions (because he doesn’t like them to look worn) bent and tore the cover while the bookmark unraveled itself. While the binding is very solid I don’t feel like the cover of this book will adequately protect it over a longer period of time or through rigorous use (so it’s out for frequent traveling), and I think that this problem will get worse with the larger size.

photo 4-59

For the price of a couple dollars this is a very good notebook to write in. While there are some problems with cover and bookmark it makes a fine office or school notebook, or, if you aren’t a stickler for aesthetics, it’s a nice convenient size to carry around (though larger than that average pocket). If you’re looking for an inexpensive notebook upgrade or are just tired of people putting words or logos on your writing area these are nice, minimal and well crafted books.

Advertisements

Review – Zebra Sarasa Colors – Hunter, Fuchsia, Cobalt, Light Green, and Violet

After the first five colors in the ten-color pack of Zebra Sarasa pens, the colors get a bit less conventional and a bit more extreme. Let’s look at the Zebra colors Hunter, Fuchsia, Cobalt, Light Green, and Violet.

zebra sarasa colors 2

First Hunter, which is a dark bluish-green, a bit more blue than usual hunter greens, which seem a bit warmer. The color is very deep, and in some places could easily be work-friendly. It is a very natural color and could easily fit an artist’s needs for a deep green. It lifts the most when exposed to water, but like the rest of the colors here, it doesn’t really budge to smear once it dries.

Next Fuchsia, which I’d call rose, but that’s just me. It sits on the fence for me between a deep pink and a light purple. I can’t really tell which it is. As far as either one goes, though, it is a very appealing color that, unlike other pinks or light purples, doesn’t hurt the eyes. It’s more of a flower color than anything else.

Third is Cobalt, which is a very grey blue, though I’m almost tempted to say it’s the other way around. It’s a dark and dim color that gives off a wintery feeling. Artists could find a use for it in many winter themes and its color is just subdued enough that it would likely be a good office companion and still let you stick out.

Fourth Light Green, which is almost lime. It hurts the eyes a little, but it isn’t terrible. I’ve certainly seen worse. It doesn’t look very natural, and it’s slightly hard to read. It might make a good color for marking mistakes, but otherwise its uses are limited.

And finally, Violet, which is bright and indisputably purple. It’s a flowery purple and that’s the only really natural parallel that I can think of. It also might not be work-appropriate because of its brightness. But it is superb in readability, not dark enough to blend in in low light, and not light enough to disappear on the paper. For casual writing, this one would be a keeper.

And that’s it for the ten pack of Zebra Sarasa Gel pens, I think they’re great little things, with an interesting color set in which some aren’t often seen, let alone this common. They’re nice inks, and I’d go for them if you like the pen.