When hobbies collide…
It’s rare that two hobbies collide and provide twice the incentive for buying something – and when I saw this pen I knew I was in trouble. The Sailor 9 was designed by a legend in the anime and manga world – Leiji Matsumoto. Matsumoto-san is responsible for some of Japan’s longest running and most popular anime titles like Space Battleship Yamato [宇宙戦艦ヤマト] (dubbed in the USA as “Starblazers”), Captain Harlock [キャプテン・ハーロック], and Galaxy Express 999 [銀河鉄道999].
This is where the seed was planted for my love of Japanese animation – getting up at the crack of dawn to watch “Starblazers” on Channel 56 out of Boston. I loved how this “cartoon” could have a plot arc, suspense, and address love and death – which was miles above the slapstick approach most US animation studios followed at the time. Needless to say I was hooked from that point forward.
Fast forward to 2013 – Sailor decides to produce a limited edition set of 500 pens, designed by Matsumoto and featuring several design details related to his anime work. But why Sailor 9? Matsumoto has a thing for the number 9 – he sees it as numerical way to represent a transitional moment in his work for both stories and characters. The most obvious use being the number on the train in Galaxy Express “999”.
Matsumoto’s influence on the pen design is hard to miss and I find it quite beautiful. The pen body has several spots where it bumps out and the resulting shape, is a nod to his spacecraft design – which you can see on the hull of the Yamato on the left. Two sets of these circle the pen mid-cap and mid-body. At first I thought the shape may feel a bit odd in your hand, but they are not really in the way and Sailor did a great job of keeping the pen functional while adding these design elements.
The pen appeared to be a dark blue resin in some photos I had seen, but when I got it, I realized they have added a pearl to the color giving the illusion of staring up into a sea of stars. As light catches the surface of the pen, each fleck twinkles – giving the resin a real sense of depth and texture.
The accents are all gold plated and the finial on the cap has an engraved skull and crossbones icon from his Captain Harlock series. The cap clip is a heart shaped design that has good tension but open easily. The cap band is engraved with “Leiji Matsumoto – Sailor, Japan” with an anchor icon and his signature in-between.
The blue gift box is typical Sailor, with a spot for the limited edition “Leiji Blue” ink, convertor, pen, and a leather holster shaped like a cutlass sheath. There is also a thank you card featuring Maetel from Galaxy Express 999. The cover is debossed in gold with Matsumoto’s signature, and a skull and crossbones.
As for the ink – “Leiji Blue” – it comes in the typical Sailor bottle with the plastic insert for filling when the bottle gets closer to empty. The bottle has no label – instead the cap has a screened image of Captain Harlock. The dark blue ink is quite rich with some beautiful red sheen (swatch below).
Speaking of nibs – the Sailor 9 only comes in a Medium nib (probably due to such low production numbers), but as Japanese nibs run smaller this feels more like a western fine nib. The nib is 14k and engraved with Matsumoto’s signature and the Sailor logo. The pen does have a little bit of flex which is nice, but as this uses one of Sailor’s smaller nib sizes the flex is limited (wish this had a KoP version with the larger nib). When writing the nib has a smooth flow with that hint of feedback I love in Japanese pens. The feed keeps up and I have not had issues with skipping or hard starts. It’s all fed by the included Sailor cartridge convertor – about the size of Pilot’s CON-50 but without the agitator.
The section is slightly tapered with a small flare at the end – which makes for a solid grip. Past the section the fine threads are flanked with gold accents. The body has a few recessed rings in the resin prior to the finial at the bottom – giving it the look of an engine nozzle. The screw cap is push-to-post and feels well balanced that way as the cap posts pretty deep on the body, but I actually like it unposted – for those with larger hands you may find this pushes the edge of what is comfortable.
The limited edition number (309) is laser etched into the cap just above the band along with the year of production.
I’m very happy with this purchase – Sailor didn’t just slap a logo on it and call it a day. Instead you see how they really let Matsumoto’s design influence every aspect of the pen while keeping it perfectly functional and comfortable in hand. The additional items like the pen sleeve, bottle cap, and box cover really tie the whole package together. As for downsides? Other than the single nib option I don’t feel there are any – this pen is right in line with the quality of their Pro-Gear lineup and going in the daily carry case for sure. If you’re interested in picking one up they are still out there – I got this one from a pen store in Chiba, Japan – but they are available on Ebay and Rakuten as well.