It's soft, and thus is not really suited to sustained writing unless you're fond
of sharpening a lot. The lead is wide, which may be useful to some, but since
I'm a writer and not a sketch artist, it makes no real difference to me.
This pencil is relatively unknown, which is a little surprising as it's a little
bit nicer than any of my other soft pencils, including the lauded Staedtler Mars
Lumograph 4B and hyped Palomino Blackwing. In some way, the silent, humble
excellence of the Uni Penmanship is attractive, but it also seems a little
unfortunate that it's so often overlooked.
If you're a writer who likes soft pencils, this is probably the best available,
and almost nobody knows it. For sketching, I'll defer to Alberto.
While a lot of folks are fawning over the Hi-Uni, I have to say these are among
my new favorite pencils. For a while I've been looking at darker pencils to use
for writing heavier text (headers, etc) in my notes. At first I gave the Hi-Uni
B a shot, and then the Uni Penmanship Pencil in 4B (carried by JetPens at the
time of this writing), then this one. While the 4B Mitsubishi is quite an
impressive instrument and is exceedingly smooth and dark with minimal pressure,
it wears down quickly and the marks are rather smudgable. I was a bit surprised
at how fragile the Hi-Uni B was; almost every time I wrote a "ping na" stroke in
a Chinese character, the tip would snap from the extra pressure. It was getting
really maddening, and I didn't have much hope for the Mono 100 in 2B. However,
my fears were misplaced as the Tombow has excellent point durability, and did
not break a single time in dozens of characters. It does of course wear down
faster than an HB, but is quite dark and rather smooth. I think perhaps it gives
up a little bit of the slipperiness of the Hi-Uni on some papers, but then it
seems equally smooth or even a little smoother on some other papers, and the
gains in precision and point durability are nothing to scoff at.
Truly a marvelous writing implement, and I think I'll need to get more of them.
I'm a little surprised how little love the Mono 100 has gotten in reviews.
I've been using high-end Japanese pencils for a while, and while I do like the
Hi-Uni a lot, I find myself gravitating more toward the Mono 100 for writing.
The real-world differences are pretty negligible unless you are obsessively
comparing the two back and forth on a variety of surfaces (guilty), and even
then the differences are small. They are both smooth as far as HB pencils go,
but I find that the Hi-Uni is slightly more slippery on a Rhodia page, while the
Mono feels a bit more viscous. Both qualities can be very desirable, and my
feeling is that the Mono gives a very slightly superior degree of control and
precision for writing. When moving the pencil a lot faster, in sketching for
example, the slightly lower resistance of the Hi-Uni might be more appealing. I
also have had fewer point breakages with the HB Mono 100 than with the HB
Hi-Uni, though both are rare.
Both pencils are excellent, probably deserving of being called the best pencils
in the world today. If you're struggling to decide which to get (and can't
afford both), flip a coin or choose by aesthetics or brand identity and you
won't be disappointed.
When I first saw these (and their holders), I dismissed them completely. They
looked like cheap toys, rather than high-quality stationery. However, I
eventually decided to try the leads after they were recommended to me. Long
story short, I was impressed.
They're very, very smooth. Dark too. They are a little on the soft side for
their grade, as is common in many of the high-end Japanese pencils (the leads
are Japanese as well, though the holder is made in China). I hadn't expected
anything special, so it was really a shock to use them the first time. In a
heavier leadpointer, it's a fantastic writing experience.
However, they're not perfect. Even for a B grade, they're a little soft, and
will not retain a super-fine point very long. If you're an ultra-small writer,
these aren't really ideal...but then again, neither is any other B pencil. They
work wonderfully though if your handwriting isn't microscopic.
All in all, this is a great lead. Well worth checking out if you're into
These little sharpeners are great. I've got a few pocket lead pointers from KUM
but rebranded for Staedtler and other companies, but I never really liked the
points they made. The SharPits pointer creates a very acute point, and its
design makes it less likely to pop open and dump graphite all over. I use this
to sharpen my HB Uni leads, and the results are simply excellent.
If I had to think of a downside, I guess it can be a bit TOO fine a point for
softer leads. The SharPits B leads (which are very nice, by the way) are a bit
fragile if given the sharpest point possible.
I think this is a wonderful product. I keep one in my bag, and combined with Uni
HB leads, it delivers nicer lines and a more pleasant writing experience than
pretty much any other pencil I've ever used. I have a bunch of Mono 100s and
Hi-Unis lying around my place, but when I'm at work and want to use a pencil,
this is the one I reach for most often.
This lead is excellent, but yes very easy to break with many pencils. For a long
time, I tried, without success, to use the 2B with a Pentel S473, but 2 clicks
would bring the lead too far out to avoid breakage. It eroded quickly enough
that 1 click would result in me rubbing the pencil sleeve against the paper.
Very frustrating, and almost made me give up entirely on 0.3mm (HB isn't
dark/smooth enough in my opinion).
However, with a GraphGear 1000, a couple clicks is just the right length, where
the lead doesn't break so easily and doesn't vanish completely right away. It's
great for situations where I can't sharpen, but want a nice smooth dark lead in
a fine line.
In terms of darkness, it really doesn't compete with the best wooden pencils,
but Ain in 2B is pretty dark and rich. Not a bad lead at all, and one of the
best options conventionally available in my opinion.
After reading some of Alberto's reviews about the Uni, praising it compared to
the Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Koh-I-Noor, etc. alternatives, I decided to give
them a shot, since I hoped for a dark, smooth lead that would compare with my
high-end pencils (Hi-Uni, Palomino, Craft Design Technology).
I was a bit reluctant at first since Mitsubishi also had marketed a Hi-Uni lead
alongside the standard Uni, and also for a brief time sold a variety called the
"Uni Artis". Both were higher-priced and supposedly came with correspondingly
higher performance, but now both are discontinued and becoming rare. I lucked
out and sourced some of all three offerings, and spent some time comparing them
to discern differences.
While there were some slight differences between the leads, I think that much of
it is negated through the use of a substantial leadholder (I use a Staedtler
925-25). The Uni holds its own pretty well, and in HB is quite good. This was a
bit of a relief, since I don't know how my luck will be in sourcing the
That said, I would still prefer the Hi-Uni or Uni Artis leads if they were
readily available and cheaper, but since the Uni is much cheaper, much easier to
get, and very very nearly as good as the "premium" versions, it seems to be a
no-brainer for anyone who wants to use high-end tools without fear of suddenly
running out (Blackwing 602 lovers know what I'm talking about).