The Daiso Fluently illustration marker showed up at my local Daiso, everyone’s favourite Japanese dollar store, a few months ago.

They’re alcohol-ink markers packaged in ten sets of two, for nineteen colors total and a blender marker. My store was only carrying three or four of the sets, so I just grabbed a pair of greens and a pair of greys to try out.

Daiso Fluently initial marker test

Initial marker tests for light green, green, light cool grey, and light warm grey.

Of course, because of my pen hoarding tendencies and my crazy backlog of supplies I bought just to try out, the markers sat in their packaging for at least six months before I opened them. So when chisel tip of the dark green one was dry and rough out of the gate, I wasn’t sure if it’d just been sitting too long or what.

But if the marker casing is doing its job, alcohol-based inks shouldn’t really dry over time. Some of my less frequently used Copic colors have sat for years without issue. That said, while not a common occurance, I have had other alcohol markers (including Copic) do the same thing, whether old or new, so I’ll give the Daiso Fluently dark green marker the benefit of the doubt: it’s just bad luck.

Daiso Fluently VS Copic Sketch

Daiso Fluently VS Copic Sketch chisel tips. The Fluently is a tad wider.

Dry tip aside, the markers seem resoundingly average, which is great when you consider the $0.75/marker (+tax) price. Ink flow is juicy, but not overly so. Alcohol smell is noticeable but light.

The marker body is squarish; one end is a fat chisel tip (7.0 mm) and the other is a fine tip (1.0 mm). It’s obviously modeled after Copic’s classic markers (rather than Copic Sketch), which have a very similar design. You can post the caps (put the uncapped cap on the back of the pen) of the Fluently though, which I’m not sure you can do with Copic classics. You definitely can’t post the caps of the Copic Sketch.

However, it is also somewhat difficult to uncap the marker. The clip in very securely, and it’s hard to get caps off one-handed. You’re liable to elbow someone sitting next to you trying to take off the marker caps if you aren’t careful.

The “Daiso” name isn’t present on the marker itself, though it’s marked on the packaging. Weirdly, the back of the packaging also says “oil-based ink,” which is impossible because it’s definitely an alcohol-ink marker, and the two types of ink aren’t compatible. Daiso’s website also lists the markers as “oil-based,” but the marker bodies say alcohol. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sparrow drawing with brush pen and Daiso Fluently markers

Sparrow drawing with Tombow Fudenosuke and Daiso Fluently marker on Bristol.

The fine tips have more consistent ink flow than the chisel tips, as is typical, and there were no problems even on the green marker with the bad chisel tip. Bleed-through on the backs of pages was relatively minimal and bleed-through to the next page was non-existent, keeping in mind that none of these colors are particularly dark.

I really, really dislike the square marker bodies though. They feel overly large and are uncomfortable in my hand, which I feel are average-sized? It annoys me that Copic designed their classic markers this way specifically because now most other alcohol markers have followed suit.

Daiso Fluently ink blend test VS Copic

Daiso Fluently ink blend test VS Copic, on 300 series Bristol board.

The ink in the Daiso Fluently blended surprisingly well, though it could also be a side effect of the relatively light colors I chose. Even the fine tips seem to blend decently.

Drawing of a secretary bird with Tombow Fudenosuke and Daiso Fluently on Bristol.

Most complaints about the Daiso Fluently can be waved away by the fact that it’s $1.50 for a two-pack.

Other alcohol-based markers are $2.50/ea on the lower end, including the Marvy Le Plume, and up to $8/ea on the high end, including MSRP Copics. The Fluently isn’t refillable, but refill inks would need to be ridiculously priced to beat the value of $0.75 markers anyway… Well, if it’s Daiso, I guess they’d have to sell refills at $1.50, which would be suitably ridiculous, I suppose?

The Fluently is a good, cheap primer to alcohol markers on the whole, but especially with its very limited color selection, it’s really not meant to be a permanent collection item.

It’s a real shame there isn’t a version with a brush tip though.

African wild dog drawn with Daiso Fluently markers