Review: Uni Mitsubishi Double-Sided brush pen

These days, I have several go-to brush pens I’m really happy with, but who knows if there’s a new favourite out there I haven’t tried yet? And thus, compulsive pen-buying continues…

Uni Mitsubishi double-sided brush pen.
Uni Mitsubishi double-sided brush pen.

I picked up the Uni Mitsubishi double-sided brush pen recently. Most double-sided pens have a fine, non-brush tip and a larger brush tip, and I end up basically never using the non-brush side, but for this pen, both ends are brushes!

Both ends of the pen are felt-tipped. The fine end is similar to flexible, fine-tipped brush pens like the Zebra disposable brush pen (super fine), Kuretake Fudegokochi (very fine), or Tombow Fudenosuke, and the broad end is similar to thicker brush pens like the Kuretake #33 or Copic multiliner brush pen.

Broad and fine tips.
Broad and fine tips.

As is usually the case, the fine tip way easier to control and has more line variation. Thinner lines are, obviously, easier to achieve with the fine tip, but thick lines are also very easy if you hold the nib on its side. The tip is pretty flexible, so closer to the Tombow Fudenosuke hard than the soft. The flexibility makes the tip rather “flicky,” so if you don’t pull the pen tip up away from the paper immediately after each stroke, lines may be longer than you intend and thin on the ends. The flickiness annoys me a lot and is the reason I prefer the Tombow hard brush to the soft.

The broad end is great for filling in large areas of black, but the tip loses its point very quickly, making finer lines impossible to achieve after a short while, and they’re hard to get with the broad end in the first place. It’s definitely more for looser sketching than final ink work.

Test page.
Initial test page.

For calligraphy, brush scripts are way less intuitive to me than Gothic scripts, so I don’t do a lot of Western lettering or calligraphy with brush. The Uni Mitsubishi is a longer pen, so it’s meant for Eastern calligraphy, but interestingly, I actually like writing with this pen in English more than writing in Chinese or Japanese. It’s more fun..? Writing kana/hanzi is fine, but neither tip really has the type of line width variation I like in writing kana/hanzi, especially if I’m writing quickly.

Meanwhile, the same lack of line variation and bold strokes make English letters look more attractive somehow. Who knows. The fine tip runs dry near the base of the nib, so letters can look a bit rough if you write fast, but the broad end doesn’t really that issue. You handle the pen different when writing versus drawing, so the line variation ends up being really different.

Writing test.
Writing test.

The ink is a good and dark matte black and is alcohol-proof and mostly waterproof — the ink won’t run or smear once dry, but bits of grey will mix into whatever color you’re using. If you go over the ink with clear water, the ink lines will stay crisp, but the area around it will be the slightest shade of grey. The dry-time of the ink is just long enough that I’ll smear it if I’m not paying attention.

The fine end of the Uni Mitsubishi is too flicky for me to do real inking with and the broad end is just… too broad, but both ends are fun enough for sketching. I think both ends of the pen actually have about the same proportion of line variation from thin to thick, but because I don’t like to draw very big, it feels like the broad end doesn’t have as much variation because I never go for the largest strokes possible except to fill in large black areas.

Left is fine; right is broad.
Left is fine; right is broad.

It’s fine for me if I only ever use the broad end to fill blacks though — that’s more use than I ever get out of the fine, non-brush end of other double-sided brush pens, like the Tombow dual brushes. Actually, even though stronger black/white artwork is something I’ve been wanting to work on for a long time now, one of the biggest reasons I don’t do more of it is because I don’t have a lot of pens that are good for filling blacks and it’s messy and time-consuming to break out a bottle of ink just for that when most of the other inking I do is with a brush pen.

Left is fine; right is broad.
Left is fine; right is broad.

At $4.95, the Uni Mitsubishi is basically the same cost as two one-ended disposable brush pens — there’s not really a discount in combining into one pen. The cap on each end post perfectly into the cap on the other end, but you can also just uncap both ends for extra fast swapping while sketching, which may be the main benefit of having a double-sided pen. Or maybe not having to remember to carry two pens around is the main benefit? Though the longer length (just shy of 7.5″ or 19cm capped) of the pen means it doesn’t fit into shorter pen cases.

In the end I’m pretty ambivalent about the Uni Mitsubishi. It’s decent for writing and sketching, but I wouldn’t recommend for any final ink work. The broad end is a good black fill, so it’s not bad if you want to reduce the number of disposable pens you carry around. But for me, it’s too big to fit in my regular carry-around case, and I don’t really care about the extra five seconds it might take me to swap pens in the middle of a sketch, so I don’t think I’ll be getting another one when this one is dry.

Here's a drawing using both ends of the pen.
Here’s a drawing using both ends of the pen.