The name Manjiro Nakahama comes courtesy of a Japanese gentleman who was really into ships and such. Follow the link under his name if you want to find out more but I won't bore you with the details.
In a nutshell, Whaleman's Sepia was designed to resemble the inks that old-time whalers used to make out of squid ink. Very cool concept. I wish it were actually made from squid ink.
I've been waiting a long time to review this ink and here it is, finally. Was it worth the wait? Methinks not, but read on to find out why.
I tested a sample of this ink in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.
Bottle and pricingBottle capacity: 4.5 oz / 133 ml
Price: $27.50 (+ free pen)
Price / ml: $0.20
Whaleman's Sepia is a tad pricier than regular Noodler's inks but not by much and it does come with a pen (an eyedropper Platinum Preppy). You're out of luck if you don't need so much of it though, because it doesn't come in smaller bottles.
Quick word about the peculiar smell. While pungent, I don't find it unpleasant at all. It doesn't stink outright, but you will definitely feel it if you put your nose to the bottle/vial.
Color and saturationWhaleman's Sepia is supposed to be a sepia-colored ink, which is a shade of brown. It has high saturation but the main problem (for me) is that it comes very close to black as opposed to brown. To my eyes, on paper, it looks positively black. What's interesting is that the photos managed to capture the brown better than my eyes can distinguish it.
Speaking of photos, this is the first ink review where I'm using a new camera to shoot the ink samples.
Back to the ink, in the copy paper example there's a comparison with a regular brown ink, Noodler's Polar Brown. The differences between them couldn't be greater. Just for a lark, I decided to compare it to Noodler's Heart of Darkness (below) and it's obvious how much more it resembles a black ink than a brown one.
ShadingI could say there's none, but if I peer closely into its murky darkness, there are slight variations, so for the sake of brevity I will admit that there is some color variation.
BleedthroughObviously, such a dark ink will bleed on cheap paper. On Clairefontaine 90g it doesn't.
Flow, lubrication, and smoothnessThe crux of my beef with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia is that it is a very dry ink, and I don't like this type at all. Folks with free-flowing nibs might enjoy it though, but it doesn't work for me. The Pilot Vanishing Point struggles with it and the nib dries up after every use. Once it gets going, it writes smoothly enough - when it doesn't skip - and it likes to do that a lot. Unfortunately I've been forced to pump the pen's converter pretty often, to get it going.
Drying timeDrying time is longish on smooth paper but fairly short on photocopy. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Smearing when drySurprisingly, this ink doesn't smear much, even on Clairefontaine, provided it dries well. I would have expected it to smear but apparently it bonds really well with the cellulose in the paper. That's very good, but don't forget this is a security ink, meaning that smear resistance should come with the territory.
Water resistanceWater resistance is 9-9.5/10. It's not perfect because a very thin layer washes off after exposure to water, but I don't see that as an issue.
One thing that I didn't test and I would like to find the time for, is bleach resistance. The documentation states that the ink changes color from brown to red to purple, the stronger the bleach. Hopefully I can test that soon.
ConclusionSadly I'm not a fan of Noodler's Manjiro Nakahama Whaleman's Sepia. I love the lore behind this ink and the intent, but the color is too dark (though I'm sure for others this is a boon), and worst of all it writes too dry for comfort. Furthermore, unless you need tons of it, you won't find it in smaller bottles. I would give this one a pass, but if you are a fan, please share your experience, I'd love to hear about it.
Here are the two samples, on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g, respectively.