Review: Daiso’s $5 “Rosso Bianco” fountain pen

The “regular” Daiso fountain pen has been in my rotation for a few years now. It’s honestly one of my favourite pens.

So when Daiso added a whole tray of new fountain pens, marked at a premium of $5, I was honestly not too inclined. The other fountain pen is still available for $1.50; how much better could a $5 one be? It’s more than three times the price, but will it be more than three times the quality? I was doubtful and held out for a couple of months, but eventually. Eventually. Curiosity got the better of me.

Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens in store
Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens at the store.

There are actually quite a few options for the $5 Daiso fountain pens, all of which have branding for “Rosso Bianco” on the pen itself, but not on any of the packaging, which just say Daiso on the back.

The first box I saw (above) had both flat-cap round pens and pointed-cap pens in a few different colors, including white, silver, navy blue, and pink. These pens had an “R” inscribed on the top of the clip and “Rosso Bianco” in tiny script around the silver cap band.

Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens in store
The second box of $5 fountain pens.

The second box (above) had two more styles of pen: a slimmer round pen and one with flat sides on the pen body, both with a little rhinestone on the clip. These pens had “Rosso Bianco” as an inscription on the pen body, as the cap band was too thin to accommodate an inscription there and the clip had the rhinestone.

Almost all of the pen variants had M (medium) and F (fine) nib options. In the end, I opted for a pen of each style from the first box: a flat-cap pen with an M and a pointed-cap with an F. $10 spent on curiosity!

Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens
Two $5 fountain pens.

Packaging for all the $5 pens is fancier than the regular Daiso fountain pen in appearance, but construction is as cheap as you’d expect.

There are no instructions inside the box, though there are some basic ones on the back of the plastic wrap. Unfortunately, the plastic’s prominent $5 sticker isn’t easily removed, so if you intend for this to be a gift and don’t want it known that it was very cheap, you’ll have to ditch the instructions, too. On the bright side, it’s not a hard pen to figure out.

Each pen comes with one ink cartridge, stored loose inside the pen. The included cartridge is between an international short and an international long cartridge in size. The cart doesn’t quite match up with the internationals as far as the appearance goes, but I tested and the pens were both still compatible with the international standard carts, just like the “regular” Daiso fountain pen.

Daiso Rosso Bianco FP cartridges
Daiso Rosso Bianco FP’s included cartridge (the longer one) VS an international short cartridge (the shorter one).

Both pens look and feel extremely similar to the “regular” Daiso fountain pen, right down to the texture and shine of the matte finish. The silver Rosso Bianco pen’s surface looks exactly like my other silver Daiso pen. There are some differences in the specifics of the pen section (the part between the nib and the barrel), but they all look very similar.

And the nibs are the same, down to identical flourishes. The only difference between the M nib of the RB pen and the unbranded Daiso fountain pen is the “R” and “Rosso Bianco” inscription on the former VS the “iridium point” of the latter.

Daiso Rosso Bianco M nib VS regular Daiso pen nib
Daiso Rosso Bianco M nib (left) VS Daiso “regular”/unbranded pen nib (right). Look at the texture of the pen bodies, too. It’s the same!

Unfortunately, the M nib Rosso Bianco pen was a defective unit. It seemed like there was a bit of glue or something stuck in the pen feed, preventing ink from flowing through.

I tried to poke out the blockage with a blunt tip syringe, but that didn’t work. In the end, I destroyed the whole nib trying to take it apart. This was really frustrating since the other Daiso pens all come apart no problem. Nib separates from feed separates from section for cleaning. It shouldn’t have been a problem, but defects happen, I guess. I was just unlucky.

But I didn’t want to spend another $5, so ultimately, I wasn’t able to test the M nib pen. Since it looks exactly the same as the regular Daiso pen nib, though, I’m willing to bet that it would’ve performed the same, too.

Daiso Rosso Bianco F nib
Daiso Rosso Bianco F nib test. (I misread the tiny script as “Russo Blanco” for a long time, so my test pages are mislabeled thus.)

The F nib is definitely finer than the regular Daiso fountain pen, but not by much.

The difference is most noticeable in that the ink flow is a little weaker, so fast strokes and strokes at an angle cause skipping more readily than with the medium nib. It’s not an unpleasant writing experience though. The nib is pretty smooth.

Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens
Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens.

Unfortunately, I think the pointed-cap pen design (black pen with F nib) is less comfortable to hold than the flat-cap pen design (silver pen with defective M nib). While both pens cap on securely, the pointed cap doesn’t post securely. The cap feels loose when posted, but the pen doesn’t feel like it’s the right length without posting the cap. The metal of the black pen’s section/grip is also weirdly slick; I wish it were more grippy.

The silver pen still had the slick section, but at least the cap posted securely. Its non-tapering pen body also made the pen a little heavier, which I think felt nicer as well. The flat-cap pen also had a cool black “button” at the top of the cap, which I think looks nicer than the pointed cap’s weird clip design.

Daiso Rosso Bianco F nib
Daiso Rosso Bianco F nib VS “regular” Daiso fountain pen (assumed M nib).

The included black ink is dye-based, so not at all water resistant. Dry time is pretty average.

Sketching with the F nib is difficult because it doesn’t do well with fast strokes. Non-sketch inkwork is okay? As long as you aren’t outpacing the inkflow, it’s not terrible to ink with the pen, but it’s definitely not ideal, especially if you’re holding the page at an angle. As line width variance is incredibly minimal, there’s no advantage in using this pen to ink instead of say, a tech pen.

This is definitely a pen better suited for writing — just like the “regular” Daiso fountain pen.

Drawing with Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pen
Drawing with Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pen and Pentel pocket brush (with grey FP ink).

So why is this Rosso Bianco pen three times the cost of the other Daiso fountain pen?

The M nib is the same. The F nib is of similar quality. They all come with one ink cartridge, though RB’s are black to Daiso’s blue-black. Both are compatible with international ink carts.

The pens are constructed with the same materials and are very similar in design, though the Rosso Biancos are a little wider in diameter and have a few more fancy flourishes in the clips, the engraved cap bands, and the tiny rhinestones in the ones I didn’t get. The Rosso Biancos also a little heavier, doubtless due to the extra fanciness. The packaging is also a little nicer, though not especially extravagant.

These are all extras that don’t have much to do with the performance though.

Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens
The pointed-cap black pen doesn’t post very well, but the other one is great.

“Rosso Bianco” isn’t a real company as far as I can find, so it’s probably safe to say that these are merely rebranded and slightly upgraded Daiso fountain pens at a higher price point. All of the upgrades are in the cosmetics, which may or may not be worth it depending on your personal aesthetics and preferences.

I’m bummed that the flat-cap pen is the one that came defective for me. I much prefer it to the other designs, including the “original” Daiso fountain pen, mostly because it’s weightier. I also prefer the M nib to the F nib here, so the F nib option in the Rosso Bianco pens doesn’t win me over either.

Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pens
Left to right: Flat-cap Rosso Bianco, “original” Daiso FP in silver, pointed-cap Rosso Bianco, “original” Daiso FP in white.

In the end though, these are still damn good pens for $5, especially when you consider most name-brand, entry-level fountain pens, like the Pilot Metropolitan, are around $15 minimum.

My defective unit aside, these pens are well-constructed and sturdy for their price (similar to the Metropolitan), with smooth nibs (not quite as smooth as the Metropolitan), and compatibility with standard refill ink cartridges.

But that’s what makes the original $1.50 Daiso fountain pen such an amazing deal. The Rosso Biancos are not three times better.

Drawing inked with Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pen
Drawing inked with Daiso Rosso Bianco fountain pen. Would’ve been easier to use a tech pen.