Hi Jon - I received the knife, and have had a chance to cook a couple dinners with it (I'm just a foodie - not a pro cook).
My initial impressions (forgive me if I get terms wrong... hopefully you'll understand what I'm trying to say)
Fit and finish
The spine is rounded well, and is comfy for my style of knife use. No sharp points, no issues with the metal at all.
I noticed gaps between the Ferrule and the handle - not large enough for me to stick a fingernail in, but enough to be aware when I'm cleaning. I've also noticed there is space where the tang meets the handle - food can get in there too. I'm not a pro cook, and don't cook in a rush, so I'm aware of these items and not worried.
At first I thought I'd be looking for a new handle, but for now, I like the balance - Blade heavy. I love the feel of the wood too - I've had burnt chestnut in the past, but I like this handle better. I like the weight to performance ratio - that is - it's not a laser, not a brick, but it's a good weight for a normal-use knife yet seems more nimble and maybe lighter than my Shigefusa.
Performance - factory edge
First dinner was roasted chicken with Bombay Potatoes. The knife performed well on the raw chicken breast (mine from the butcher are huge, and 1 breast is at least 2 portions). It cut the potatoes with ease, and a light pinch grip on the knife felt natural, and an extension of my arm. The Veg was chopped easily, like butter, as I'd expect from a knife in this $ range.
Second dinner was a simple lemony mushroom pasta... not much knife work - just herbs, lemon and mushrooms. The chopping of herbs actually helped me get familiar with the profile. I like the very flat profile for the last 2-3 inches of the blade (closest to the handle)... it suits me well, and I'm already using it what I'd call fast-for-me. What surprised me is that after cleaning the knife from the 2nd dinner prep, I noticed I chipped the tip. I was surprised - I had no tip-work at all. It's a small chip, and I will easily sharpen it out with my stones.
Profile - this sucker is tall. I don't own a Takeda, but it must be getting close to that range. Today a Wantanabe showed up at my door step, and it compares closely in height. I like it... I feel more comfortable practicing my 'knuckles in' and trying to get faster with my cutting with this knife Vs. a shorter blade height seen in Moritaka, Kono, Carter or Devin. I don't pick up my Kono HD often, and after using this knife I think I know why - its because of the profile. Its the first knife I've owned with a profile like this, and I rather like it -
Finish - the patina is on it's way already after only 2 meals. Looks great IMHO. Nice finish out of the box, but that's not going to last long!
Great knife sir - some handle fit-and-finish items to address that a pro-cook would be more fussed about than me - but those are easy fixes even for me. Great steel, great profile, fantastic grind that allows for weight, yet superb cutting performance. It's size and shape is forgiving for those of us that are learning technique on our own, one meal for 2-4 at a time, have gotten past the first year of learning to sharpen, yet are addicted to kitchen knives and want to take it to the next level. It's a fantastic addition to my collection, and I'm honored to have one of the first you've sold.