Review: Monami Olika Fountain Pen

So the Ooly Splendid Pen is apparently just a repackaged version of the Monami Olika fountain pen, but the latter comes in more default color options and has an extra fine nib available in addition to the fine.

The Ooly pen was impressive for the $5-6 price point and since the Monami is priced the same, I picked up a Monami with the EF nib in black. A neutral color would give the pen more use cases for me, and I wanted to see if the EF nib was as good as the F.

Spoilers: It is. This pen is wonderful.

Monami Olika fountain pen

Aside from the branding and language instructions, Monami Olika’s packaging is identical to the Ooly Splendid Pen. There’s absolutely no question that these are the exact same pen.

Everything is identical: the cap, the clip, the body, the dotted grip, the nibs. Same pen.

Monami Olika (clear/black) vs Ooly Splendid Pen (green)
Monami Olika (clear/black) vs Ooly Splendid Pen (green).

And so, like the Ooly Splendid Pen, the Monami Olika is buttery smooth. The extra fine nib just glides across the page. I’ve never used a nib so smooth! The pen has a generous ink flow without being too wet, doesn’t skip at all, and is pretty much all around perfect?

Monami Olika writing test.

The nib sizing between fine and extra fine is noticeable, but just barely.

I guess it’s largely irrelevant that Ooly Splendid (which is theoretically more widely available than the Monami Olika) isn’t available with the EF nib if the difference is so small.

Monami Olika/Ooly Splendid fine VS extra fine nibs.
Monami Olika/Ooly Splendid fine VS extra fine nibs.

The smoothness of the nib makes it extra great for drawing, and I was pleased to find that the nib isn’t deterred by watercolor paper! It draws as smoothly as ever across textured cold press paper.

Granted, this isn’t the roughest paper ever, but it’s the roughest paper that I personally ever use, and I often have trouble even getting technical pens to draw smoothly over it, so this is a huge plus in my book.

Monami Olika (EF nib) on 300 gsm Arches cold press watercolor paper.
Monami Olika (EF nib) on 300 gsm Arches cold press watercolor paper.

The default green ink in the Ooly Splendid was water resistant and faded a lot more than it bled when water was applied. I’d imagine that since the pens are identical, the ink cartridges and the inks for the Splendid and the Olika are the same.

But the default ink for the Olika bleeds quite obviously. I’m not sure if it’s a green VS black ink difference or a Splendid VS Olika ink difference, but lines drawn with the Monami Olika bleed readily when water is applied, even after waiting two full days for the ink to dry.

Watercolor over Monami Olika default cartridge ink (black).
Watercolor over Monami Olika default cartridge ink (black).

I don’t dislike it though.

On the contrary, I actually love the way the inks bleed because it’s not wildly out of control and it doesn’t totally destroy the integrity of the inks. I think the bleeding, combined with light watercolor, adds a lot of charm to drawings, making them more dynamic and organic. Like the Splendid Pen’s ink, the Olika’s inks tend to fade more than they bleed and drenching a page with water will just make most of the lines vanish entirely if you don’t let the displaced ink particles re-settle.

As someone who’s always been really meticulous with linework, the feeling of organic movement in drawings is something I’ve always had trouble achieving, and I think the not-quite-waterproof quality of the ink is really helpful to that end.

The ink is still Copic/alcohol-proof and holds up pretty well against other fountain pen inks (even if those additional inks are applied with brush), so coloring options are pretty good!

Monami Olika default ink and watercolor on sketchbook paper.
Monami Olika default ink and watercolor on sketchbook paper.

The one downside I’ve found to the pen is the grip, which, if you aren’t careful, can start to peel away from the pen at the lip and start to fold over on itself, which will prevent you from being able to cap the pen properly.

It’s only been a few weeks, but this is the unfortunate fate of my Splendid pen. I pretty much can’t cap it fully anymore, so I have to be extra vigilant not to lose the cap entirely. I don’t think there’s a way to fix this without just ripping the whole grip off the pen, which I might do soon because half-capping a pen is really annoying.

I’ll endeavor for it not to happen to my Olika.

Pen grip problem on my Ooly Splendid pen.
Pen grip problem on my Ooly Splendid pen. (It occurred to me way after the fact that I could’ve used the clear cap of my Olika to demonstrate the grip problem on my Splendid since they’re the same damn pen and that would’ve been clearer to see in photographs…)

All in all though, I’m super happy with the Monami Olika (and Ooly Splendid).

While I’ll occasionally pick one up to sketch or doodle with, most of my fountain pens are used primarily for writing. This is the first fountain pen that I’ve really enjoyed inking with and the first I’ve used to produce finished work with. I’m definitely looking forward to using this pen more.

Monami Olika

My first Inktober piece this year was with a tech pen, but despite my big Top 3 Pens for Inking post and my perpetual fondness of brush pens, all the rest so far have been with the Monami Olika, and I think I’ll probably stick with that!

Follow along on Instagram for 31 days of poisonous plants. :)

About the author

Kiri is a Seattle-based artist, writer, webmaster, and (brush) pen enthusiast with over 12 years of convention and event vending experience and a lot of opinions.