Hi, I’m Abbas Jaffery, co-founder and CEO of Azuki. I’ve been a fan of manga and anime for over 20 years, ever since I discovered my first two manga series: Blame! and Berserk. They were unlike anything I had seen before and set me on my path today. For a long time, I’ve wanted a space where I could read manga and discuss it with other fans, sharing opinions, recommendations, and more. Something that supports the community that fans have built online and at anime conventions, and lets them read officially licensed and distributed editions of the series they love. I’ve seen many attempts over the past decade, but nothing really captured the experience I was looking for. The team at Azuki came together to create the manga service we always wanted. A service that works across phones, tablets, and computers, with free chapters and great community features. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been cooking up.
Who’s behind Azuki?
Azuki was created by Adela Chang, Evan Minto, Krystyn Neisess, and myself. Most of us first met at Crunchyroll, where we helped build the tech that powered a world-class anime streaming service. From there we branched out to Kodansha, Yelp, The Internet Archive, and Medium, only to come back together through our shared love of manga. Our guiding principle for Azuki was to build a manga service that we wanted to use. Of course, we’ve also put a lot of work into road-testing our apps with other manga fans and making sure everything is as easy and fun as possible. We’re looking forward to talking manga with everyone when you get your hands on Azuki starting June 28th!
What kind of manga can you expect on Azuki?
For the past two years, we’ve been hard at work not just building our apps, but also forging relationships with the publishers of some of your favorite manga. We’re proud to have Kodansha USA as our first partner. Azuki will feature over 170 series from Kodansha, including fan-favorites like Attack on Titan and Fire Force as well as critical darlings like Land of the Lustrous and Chihayafuru. Kodansha’s catalog on Azuki covers a wide range of genres and styles, from bone-crunching shonen action to sweet shojo romance. What makes this library so exciting is that you can read all of this for just $4.99 a month. That’s less than the cost of a single manga volume.
As part of our partnership with Kodansha, we’re also releasing chapters for an impressive 16 series shortly after they come out in Japan. This is an amazing opportunity for fans to stay up to date on stories like To Your Eternity, A Sign of Affection, EDENS ZERO, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, all while reading legal releases and supporting the creators in Japan.
What does the name mean?
We’re a bean! From the start we imagined ourselves as a digital manga cafe and being a community for reading. Then as we were talking, someone asked what our favorite snack to eat while reading manga was. For me the answer was easy: mochi. “Azuki” is another name for the red beans used to create red bean paste or “anko,” a delicious ingredient that’s part of lots of Japanese sweets (including mochi), and thus Azuki was born.
Our quest to give fans the best manga experience is just getting started. On June 28th we’re opening up Azuki to the masses, but in the meantime, you can sign up on our website to get notified via email when we launch. And of course, you’ll want to keep your eyes on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles. In the coming weeks we’ll have more exciting announcements, so stay tuned!