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Thread: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

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    Default EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Extra Fine Nib Ink Review: Platinum Chou Kuro

    This is review #280 in my series. Here's the YouTube video:


    Post-recording notes: Most reviews focus on the blackness, waterproofness, and cleaning. Precious few actually talk about how it writes or behaves in the pen. So, I'll comment on everything I can think of about this ink.

    I pre-cleaned with distilled water and the ultrasonic cleaner, then allowed everything to dry *before* I inked the pen. Given the images others have posted of the ink's reaction with tap vs distilled water, I thought it might give my pen a little better chance if any residue from tap water was cleaned off ahead of time.

    When put on thin enough, this is a warm dark grey (see microscope smear). That surprised me - I thought it would be a black hole even in thin applications, but no. When enough is applied, it is blacker than my darkest inks (see video comparisons). In heaviest application, it looks wet - sort of shiny or almost silvery sheen (see video). My other blacks were mostly cooler, and quite a few turn grey in comparison. A few still seemed black, but not as black. Of note is the Pilot Black for Parallel pens - historically, that swatch has seemed solid black to me. Now it seems solid, darkest cool grey.

    Also of note are De Atramentis Document Black, Noodler's Heart of Darkness, and Noodler's Black (when applied heavily). These three held up best against Chou Kuro. And Noodler's Black was most similar in color and in how much blacker it is in heavy application.

    This ink was gifted to me by an Instagram friend. In the sample vial, it sloshes around easily and stays together. It doesn't cling to or try to stain the walls. There was no sign of settling as some other pigmented inks do. It does form quite a lot of bubbles when you shake it up. Some dried to a solid on the threads, but it did re-wet, so it may not be the end of the world if it dries in a pen, but you'd have a hard time cleaning it out, so I highly recommend against that - use a pen that seals well.

    When writing in my journal (generally in cursive and constant writing), I had no flow problems, but the longer the pen was inked, the less the pen liked to start writing - the first strokes were not as solid (you can see this in some images). Doing logic puzzles (about 48 hours after inking), the pen ran dry. The paper was thick copy paper. I was making dots, Xs, and lines, and writing constantly - it was a simpler puzzle, so no need for pauses and capping. Wiping the back of the nib on the paper and then scribbling some lines brought it back to life, only to happen a second time. After repeating the process, it flowed better. So, it seems like this ink won't take very long pauses without drying on the nib. A wetter nib might not have this problem. The problem did not recur on subsequent days, even when doing more logic puzzles. I did have flow problems near the end of the doodle and flossed the tines to get it flowing well again (that doodle was a demanding task for the ink).

    Cleaning was not bad. I put some distilled water in a stainless steel measuring cup and dropped the nib and feed in there with the disc and agitator ball from the cartridge. I rinsed the section and cartridge with a couple syringe-fulls of distilled water, then put everything into an ultrasonic cleaner with a little distilled water and ran it once. I don't think that was needed, it was just easiest. The cartridge seemed stained (sort of a warm brownish grey), but nothing else. The ink seems to come off non-porous surfaces quite easily, though with agitation (e.g. I had to wipe it off my stainless steel sink when I got some on it). It also comes quite easily off skin (more easily than many even non-permanent inks)!

    NOTE: Given the claim of blackest black, I went ahead and compared not only swatches, but also the review pages from all my former blacks to see if one can distinguish this from other blacks in writing from a Japanese EF. There were so many blacks that looked just as black to me that I didn't bother to try to capture comparison photos - any differences are likely too subtle to distinguish. There were also many that looked distinctly greyish. But IMO, if you're using a Japanese EF nib, this ink may not be different enough to justify the cost.

    Note on Shading and Sheen: Though I put "None", technically, it will shade in a dry-enough application, but I'm not sure a normal nib will get it that thin. The circular/disc dip nib I use for making swatches these days can do it. As to sheen, mostly, there's nothing, but in heavy application, when held at an angle to the light, you see what looks like sheen, or maybe like the ink is wet. I think it's just light reflecting off thick ink. I've seen this in some writing in my Hobonichi (52gsm Tomoe River paper) and on the swatch card. (See the video for an example from my doodle.)

    All in all, if you want the blackest black and don't choke on the price or the distilled water for cleaning, this is your ink!

    This is a very cool PDF from Platinum about this ink.

    Zoomed in photo (I think the broken lines are because the ink sometimes dries on the nib. Once it gets going, the lines aren't quite as broken.)


    Screenshot


    Scan of Completed Review


    Absorbent Paper Close-up (top is puzzle paper like thick newsprint, bottom is old 20lb copy paper)


    Line width ("1" in "10" in dry-time test. Magnification is 100x. The grid is 100x100Ám. The scale is 330Ám, with eleven divisions of 30Ám each. The line width for this ink is roughly 248Ám. With 280 inks measured, the average line width is 296Ám.) (Holy opacity, Batman! Note the red spots - that usually means sheen. I used a different line because the usual ones weren't representative (drying on the nib, I think), but it's still thin!)


    Microscope image (100x. Looks very much like pretty much all pigmented inks look - granular, pattern that looks like the edges of clouds or the build-up of multiple layers of mineral deposits at a hot spring.)


    Water Test Results


    Other (Toward the end of this doodle (the curves at the top), the pen was struggling and needed a bit of flossing and rest to refill the feed - not sure we can fault pen or ink - I was putting down a lot of ink in a short time.)


    Previous Review: Pilot Mixable Colour Light-green.

    Images also available on Instagram: @zilxodarap.

    Want to influence the inky sequence? Take the "next ink" poll.

    View a list of my inks, complete with review results in a google sheet.

    Need to catch up on The Adventures of Quin and Makhabesh? Find the whole story here.

    Hope you enjoy. Comments appreciated!

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Holy Mud Monster, Quin!

    The mystery deepens. Like, wowsville, duude. So like who's really the High Wizard? (Sorry for going all Beatnik there). To the tune of rattlesnakes and groans.

    Liz, thanks so much for the Tuesday Treat, and for reviewing an ink I surely do not want in my arsenal. Fascinating and thorough, nevetheless! I do not have any of the comparison inks this time.

    And I absolutely love the story.
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!


    And my latest ebook, for spooky wintery reading:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0CM2NGSSD

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    Holy Mud Monster, Quin!


    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    The mystery deepens. Like, wowsville, duude. So like who's really the High Wizard? (Sorry for going all Beatnik there). To the tune of rattlesnakes and groans.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    Liz, thanks so much for the Tuesday Treat, and for reviewing an ink I surely do not want in my arsenal. Fascinating and thorough, nevetheless! I do not have any of the comparison inks this time.
    You're most welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    And I absolutely love the story.
    Thank you!

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    First, thanks for the most comprehensive and sensible review yet of this ink. I've spent three days champing at the bit anticipating it.

    This ink, and the hype surrounding it, bring to mind that old "picking the fly shit from the pepper" routine. I'll allow that some artists may want/desire/need a more deeply intense black ink. But then, that's why India ink ($6.50 for a 2 oz. bottle). For those of us running fountain pens and usually just dumping text of one sort or another on paper, black is pretty much just black. For years, I used Noodle's Eel Black in pens I used for black ink and permanence. Recently I switched to DeAtramentis Document Black and loaded my Pilot Custom 823 for most writing uses. With a medium nib, it creates a line that is as black as I think it's possible to get on most paper.

    My bottom line is, I think this is simply a marketing gimmick from Platinum. Jack up the price to twice as much to make it seem more valuable, and create a mystique around it claiming it should only be cleaned out with distilled water. Looks like an excellent business school lesson to me.

    This is current pricing for permanent black inks:

    DeAtramentis Document Black (45 ml) $21.50

    Noodles Eel Black (3 oz 89 ml) $15.00

    Platinum Carbon Black (60 ml) $32.00

    Platinum Chou Kuro (60 ml) $60.00

    Finally, to address the finickiness of Platinum Carbon Black... I have a Platinum Desk Pen that uses Platinum Carbon Black ink cartridges. It's had a cartridge in it for several years now, and even if unused for months at a time, it writes perfectly any time I pick it up. I've also used the ink in various pens with cartridge converters and never had any usage problems or difficulties cleaning it out.

    Again, thanks for an excellent effort. I wish the product had really been worth your time.

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Oh, and regarding the "Platinum PDF" you referenced...

    Item 3 --- they do not specify what paper they used. They simply refer to it as "our test paper." That, of course, makes it essentially meaningless.

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    This I won't be looking forward to using with all the cleaning regiments , thanks for a thorough review and creative video editing I had to check all the images, the video clips, read all the comments before I could settle down and read about Quin and the "high" / "low" wizard / Lizard

    Thank you for reviewing this ink and bringing some magic with your art and story to a post-eclipse day

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    First, thanks for the most comprehensive and sensible review yet of this ink. I've spent three days champing at the bit anticipating it.
    You're very welcome! I hope it was worth it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    This ink, and the hype surrounding it, bring to mind that old "picking the fly shit from the pepper" routine. I'll allow that some artists may want/desire/need a more deeply intense black ink. But then, that's why India ink ($6.50 for a 2 oz. bottle). For those of us running fountain pens and usually just dumping text of one sort or another on paper, black is pretty much just black. For years, I used Noodle's Eel Black in pens I used for black ink and permanence. Recently I switched to DeAtramentis Document Black and loaded my Pilot Custom 823 for most writing uses. With a medium nib, it creates a line that is as black as I think it's possible to get on most paper.

    My bottom line is, I think this is simply a marketing gimmick from Platinum. Jack up the price to twice as much to make it seem more valuable, and create a mystique around it claiming it should only be cleaned out with distilled water. Looks like an excellent business school lesson to me.

    This is current pricing for permanent black inks:

    DeAtramentis Document Black (45 ml) $21.50

    Noodles Eel Black (3 oz 89 ml) $15.00

    Platinum Carbon Black (60 ml) $32.00

    Platinum Chou Kuro (60 ml) $60.00
    Well, marketing gimmick or technical accomplishment, I wouldn't know, but as I said, in just plain writing, with a Japanese EF, I'm not sure one can tell the difference. But I confess that I don't have the best color perception, so artists and others may well see things I don't... Whatever the case, hopefully folks have enough info to decide for themselves...

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    Finally, to address the finickiness of Platinum Carbon Black... I have a Platinum Desk Pen that uses Platinum Carbon Black ink cartridges. It's had a cartridge in it for several years now, and even if unused for months at a time, it writes perfectly any time I pick it up. I've also used the ink in various pens with cartridge converters and never had any usage problems or difficulties cleaning it out.
    Tas over on FPN said something similar about PCB. It seems to be a very good ink, especially in Platinum pens... (His comments on PCB are where my story idea for "happy tears of silkworms" came from.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    Again, thanks for an excellent effort. I wish the product had really been worth your time.
    You're very welcome! I was glad to do a review of the ink and cover as much as I could. In that respect, it was worth it.

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    Oh, and regarding the "Platinum PDF" you referenced...

    Item 3 --- they do not specify what paper they used. They simply refer to it as "our test paper." That, of course, makes it essentially meaningless.
    Yeah, it would be nice if they'd been specific there.

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    This I won't be looking forward to using with all the cleaning regiments ...
    Once you resolve to use distilled water to rinse and then just toss it in the ultrasonic to let it do all the work, it's actually not difficult. It's making the resolution to do something different that's the hard part. Though I think one of these (full of distilled water) would have made the rinsing easier (if the image doesn't show, a laboratory wash bottle with an angled tube/spout):



    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    ... thanks for a thorough review and creative video editing ...
    You're most welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    ... I had to check all the images, the video clips, read all the comments before I could settle down and read about Quin and the "high" / "low" wizard / Lizard
    Thank you for taking the time!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    Thank you for reviewing this ink and bringing some magic with your art and story to a post-eclipse day
    Gladly!

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Thank you so much Liz for demystifying this one - I am clearly not alone in really appreciating the time and effort.

    I don't have it yet, but have been considering it, even at the rather silly price point, for when my current bottle of carbon black runs out (which will be rather sooner than I'd expected). I'm still not convinced. Whilst the whole cleaning thing is less of an issue when using dedicated pens, I find the warnings about tap water offputting - I wonder if spit counts?

    Meanwhile, what on earth is going on at the palace. Has there been a time shift? Is Quin losing his marbles? I can hardly wait until next week!

    And I love the zentangley artwork!

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Quote Originally Posted by mizgeorge View Post
    Thank you so much Liz for demystifying this one - I am clearly not alone in really appreciating the time and effort.
    You're most welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by mizgeorge View Post
    I don't have it yet, but have been considering it, even at the rather silly price point, for when my current bottle of carbon black runs out (which will be rather sooner than I'd expected). I'm still not convinced. Whilst the whole cleaning thing is less of an issue when using dedicated pens, I find the warnings about tap water offputting - I wonder if spit counts?
    I expect anything with minerals or other solids to which the ink could "attach" would be a problem. The cleaning wasn't as annoying as I might have expected, but perhaps that's because I'd planned it out ahead of time and resigned myself to it (a lot of frustration is entirely in our heads and once we stop resisting what must be, it ceases to be as annoying). But I don't have the motivation to want to do it all the time. If I had some need or strong desire for this specific ink, then I don't think it would bother me at all, but the ink is black (and I don't use black inks) and I have no particular need or desire for it, so...

    Quote Originally Posted by mizgeorge View Post
    Meanwhile, what on earth is going on at the palace. Has there been a time shift? Is Quin losing his marbles? I can hardly wait until next week!


    Quote Originally Posted by mizgeorge View Post
    And I love the zentangley artwork!
    Thank you!

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Pricing on this ink is not holding up, as I expected. Goldspot is selling it for $48. I've seen it available from Japan with free shipping for $45. At Vanness you can get a sample (4ml) for $8.75. Also, I see the basic Platinum Carbon Black is $15 at Amazon.

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliant Bill View Post
    Pricing on this ink is not holding up, as I expected. Goldspot is selling it for $48. I've seen it available from Japan with free shipping for $45. At Vanness you can get a sample (4ml) for $8.75. Also, I see the basic Platinum Carbon Black is $15 at Amazon.
    Probably due to the yen being weak right now.

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    This has become one of my all time favorite inks - I have a King of Pen permanently inked with it. I bought two bottles when I visited Japan in 2023 - it's about 1/2 the US price not including the weaker yen to dollar.
    Two things:
    1) It doesn't sheen on coated papers like TR - Carbon Black does and it sometimes makes the ink look grey.
    2) It isn't as waterproof as Carbon Black. I suspect the super saturation of pigment keeps some of it from attaching to the paper permanently. CB never smears when it's dry, this can smear a bit so I would classify it as water resistant.

    The US price of $60 (vs $30 Japan) is the only thing that keeps this from being insanely popular. When I told the Maruzen sales people, they gasped at the price and asked me how anyone can afford such an expensive ink (no exaggeration). I found pretty much everything is 1/2 retail so the Namiki Emperor was stickered ~$1000 vs $2200 US (not including tax). This was across the board for Pilot/Platinum/Sailor. I have a friend visiting Japan later this year, I'll ask him to get me a couple more bottles.
    Last edited by sfarkhan; May 23rd, 2024 at 03:03 PM.

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    Quote Originally Posted by sfarkhan View Post
    This has become one of my all time favorite inks - I have a King of Pen permanently inked with it. ....
    Thanks for sharing your extended experience with it! As to the price - hooray for import / export duties and MSRPs...?

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    Default Re: EFNIR: Platinum Chou Kuro

    My pleasure but I did a little research and there are no import duties on Japanese pens/inks - This is all the US distribution pricing. It's super frustrating because they would move a lot more product if they were say 25% more expensive than Japan but 100% is ridiculous. Again, not the weaker yen - that actually made the Namiki emperor less than $1000 after conversion...

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