Kuru Toga Advance mechanical pencil review – a “revolution” in sharp writing

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REVIEW – The mechanical pencil is a favorite of writers and technical draftspersons because no sharpening is required but, it can still develop a dull edge if the pencil is not periodically rotated while writing. The Kuru Toga Advance has a mechanism to rotate the lead a tiny bit each time the tip contacts the surface. I have one to review. Read on to see what I think!

What is it?

The Kuru Toga Advance is a conventional-looking mechanical pencil. And, on the top, the pencil is completely average. The pencil has a lead advance button on the top that conceals a small pencil eraser under which is a tube where additional leads are fed into the pencil. The writing tip also looks vaguely conventional, but some noticeable differences include a transparent section that shows an inner core and a stepped tip. The transparent section shows the rotating lead grip that turns the lead each time it makes contact with paper and the tip includes a sliding metal sheath that helps prevent the lead from breaking. These design elements allow the pencil to stay sharp longer and extend the time that the pencil needs to be adjusted in the hand or re-fed.

What’s included?

  • Mechanical Pencil

Tech specs

Click to expand

0.5 mm lead
Advanced W Speed ​​Engine fully rotates lead after 20 touches
Available in black, blue, red, green, aqua, white

Design and features


Kuru Toga Advance mechanical pencil comes in a cardboard-backed plastic case suitable for retail display.

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The pencil that I got is designed for sale in Japan. The package is mostly written in Japanese but Google Translate helped me read the package label.

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The pencil barrel is about 0.41 inches, so it is bigger than a wooden pencil and smaller than a Sharpie. The plastic outside is smooth resin and has a luxurious look and feel. The top of the pen is labeled Uni KURUTOGA 0.5. The pocket clip is labeled Advance and has a good spring to it. It is pressed into a pocket on the barrel and is not removable. The base of the barrel is permanently anchored into a silver-colored band and a clear plastic window. The base of the window permits the rotating collet to be seen while the tip is depressed. a decal applied to each side of the collet allows the user to verify that the lead is completely rotated after 20 presses. The window has a wavy outside pattern that allows the pencil to be gripped firmly.

Below the window is a metal pen tip. The top portion of the tip has a rubber ring around it to aid in holding the pencil and prevent it from slipping. I feel that the rubber ring is too small to be useful. The metal tip is a nice feature that gives stability to the lead. The metal tip is threaded on to the plastic window and is removable.

The mechanism that holds the lead in place extends through the metal tip to the other side. The tip of the mechanism has a sliding pipe that surrounds the extended lead and provides additional support to it as it is consumed. The sliding pipe retracts so more lead can be used before it needs to be advanced.


The movie below shows how a lead punched through a piece of paper shaped like an arrow rotates each time the pencil contacts the paper.

The unique design of the Kuru Toga Advance is all in the tip. When the pencil is not in use it may be stored with the lead securely inside the pencil tip by pushing the top and pressing the base against a hard surface or the tip of a finger. When the pencil is stored in this manner the slide pipe is stored securely and the lead will not break.

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To start using the pencil from this mode advance the lead three times. This will deploy the slide pipe and set the lead at the appropriate length to begin writing.

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Remove the metal knock tap to expose the eraser.

Remove the eraser to expose the feed tube for more leads.


The pencil has a springiness to it as the lead hits the paper and the turning mechanism is engaged. I don’t feel that it is noticeable when writing.  I wrote a bit more than half a page on 3 knocks and the writing was sharp the whole time.

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Here is a picture from towards the beginning.

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About half way through.

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And towards the end of the paragraph.

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While using the pencil I didn’t experience any broken leads. You can see the length of the lead when I started writing. in the picture below.

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As the lead is used it is eroded to the level of the sliding pipe.

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As the pencil use continues, the sliding pipe further retracts to ensure that the lead maintains contact with the paper.

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The auto-rotating mechanism only works when the pencil is lifted and then placed back on the paper. The Kuru Toga is a Japanese device and when used to write characters the pencil does not have to write long strokes like cursive English writing. The benefits of this pencil may not be as obvious when writing cursive.

What I like about the Kuru Toga Advance

  • Good feel
  • Sharp point
  • stable lead

What needs to be improved?

  • larger eraser would be nice

Final thoughts

In the age of phones and tablets with advanced pen capabilities maybe less people are using pencils than they have in the past. However, the Kuru Toga Advance is a pencil designed for the modern age. The Performance of this pencil is better than other 0.5 mm pencils I own and also better than wooden pencils can offer when used for writing (not drawing or shading).  If you are looking to upgrade your pencil writing, check out the Kuru Toga Advance.

Price: $6.32
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was purchased by the reviewer’s own funds. Uni did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

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