We have looked at multiple themed keyboards thus far, primarily from Akko and Varmilo, and this is even my second Japan-based themed keyboard from Akko. I have to say that this, the Monet's Pond, is a prettier theme than World Tour Tokyo that perhaps leaned a bit too much towards weeb stereotype preferences. This has the seal of approval from my better half too, so you already know I can't argue against that. As mentioned before, the Akko 3108v2 takes inspiration from the Monet's Pond recreational area in Japan, with the colors of the pond making a strong impression thanks to the turquoise. That color alone makes it extremely unique, and this is before we even get to the keycaps.
Three primary elements are common to pretty much all photos I have seen of Monet's Pond: Koi fish, water lilies, and underwater roots. Akko has depicted all three elements on the keycaps in multiple ways. The space bar keycap in particular is quite gorgeous with the fish swimming amid the green roots and water lily leaves on the surface. The fish are also used to depict the arrow keys, as well as more colorful accents up top, which is why we got the replacement keycaps for Esc, Calc, and volume control. The "Plus" key on the numpad gets a koi jumping over Mt. Fuji in what is an inspired take on the "Carp Leaping Over Dragon Gate" aspect of Chinese mythology, and there is even a Koi fish on the case above the arrow keys. We also see generous use of Hiragana script throughout in what is clearly an artistic choice since Kanji is the more popular Japanese character set. There are a few other novelty keycaps on the modifiers, including the Koinobori, Torii and a good luck knot where the two Win keys would typically be on the traditional US ANSI layout.
A traditional US ANSI layout is basically what we end up with under the glamour and glitz, with what is ultimately a standard full-size 104-key keyboard with four additional keys above the numpad for volume control, as well as a shortcut key to pull up the calculator. The colors aside, there is also an Akko logo on the bottom-right corner facing the user. There is no backlighting here, so legend placement on the keycaps is not as important as with RGB. We see that the numpad has secondary legends under primary ones, which is the other way around on the number keys. The Hiragana script has been put alongside English characters wherever there are multiple legends already, and diagonally opposite the primary legends, where there would otherwise be single legends only. I understand the reasoning behind the Hiragana used here, but Akko made two versions of the keycaps for the World Tour Tokyo, with one only having the English characters that would have been good as an option here too. While not backlit for the keys, we still have the standard three indicator LEDs above the numpad.
Flipping the keyboard around, we see the usual certification sticker in the middle, as well as five long rubber pads in white on the sides for friction against the resting surface and to prevent scratches to the case. Akko included two separate sets of case feet at the top for a total of three elevation steps, and these feet are large enough not to slip. There are rubber pads on the bottom of the feet, which is always a nice detail. Also note that the feet are part of an already raised segment of the bottom plastic panel, so even the default elevation is steeper than usual.
There is an extremely inset connector in the middle of the case on the back, with the case including guides on the cable connector housing that will be hard to use with aftermarket cables unless they are low profile. This prevents the cable from slipping out easily, keeping it securely in place when installed. There are also three built-in cable-management channels—the default in the middle and two longer channels for the left and right. Nibs in these channels help retain the cable, though they might cut into its plastic insulation. A braided cable would have been nice, but I suspect it would not have matched the color as well. The cable is the standard 6' long and plugs into an available USB Type-A port on your computer. The connectors are gold-plated for oxidation resistance, and USB 2.0 is plenty for power and data alike.
Akko makes several keycap sets and has chosen the OEM profile for the 3108v2 Monet's Pond. There are the expected six slanted rows of contoured keycaps, which will make it quite easy to transition over to this keyboard if you have used a typical mechanical keyboard already. The provided keycap puller works very well, with adequate spacing between keycaps to fit the wires through. As with the replacement keycaps seen on the previous page, the stock keycaps are made out of thick PBT plastic (average wall thickness 1.38 mm) with dye-sublimed legends and designs on all applied sides, which makes for excellent stock keycaps that will last for the lifetime of the keyboard. Backlighting support isn't much of a thing on the keycaps, however. Not that it matters, the keyboard does not support it anyway. Third-party keycap compatibility is high, but why would you even buy this if you want to change keycaps?
There are ten rarely seen switch options with the 3108v2 Monet's Pond: three from Akko itself, two from Gateron, and five from TTC. My sample uses the Gateron Pink switches, which use multiple shades of pink throughout, including a translucent pink for the housing to diffuse lighting from LEDs underneath when applicable. The stem/slider is a pastel pink, and even the pins on the bottom are the same color. There are holes in the PCB for LEDs if you want to somehow jig your own, but doing so would not be trivial even though Akko mentions that users can mod in LEDs. The larger keycaps use Cherry-style stabilizers, and these have been lightly lubricated. The stock keycaps do help reduce that mushy feeling somewhat, but it's still a mushy space bar key no matter which way you hit it. Thankfully, the lubrication helps mitigate that rattly feeling with these stabilizers, which makes it better than average, too.
Here is a look at the five turquoise replacement keycaps on the top left and right corners, which basically make it a more functional keyboard if you weren't sure what those switches do. But that is easy enough to figure out by using them, and I found myself going back to the stock Koi keycaps right after taking this photo.