Why I Love Azuki

This article was originally posted on Medium.

Disclaimer: I wrote this article from my opinion and perspective. I am not affiliated with the Azuki team. I am merely a fan, community member, and holder so please take that into consideration as you read this. Not financial advice, do your own research, and excuse my grammar. Thank you!

Azuki has changed how I think about NFTs.

When I first started getting into the NFT space, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought the concept was cool. So I bought into some projects, I grinded for whitelists, I got rugged, and I found some cool NFTs projects along the way (shout-out to Curious Addy Trading Club). At one point, I lost more money than I earned, but luckily I hadn’t invested a ridiculous amount (only put in what you can afford to lose). Undeterred by my losses, I kept looking around. It was almost like I was waiting for that “ah-ha” moment to happen. A NFT project that would change the way I thought about NFTs. To answer the question, what makes a NFT project more than a work of art?

Answer: Azuki.

The Art

As a big anime fan, the Azuki art drew me in immediately. It was my first time seeing anything like it before in the NFT space.

During this time, the project was still new. There weren’t a lot of sneaks peeks released yet, but they quickly impressed me with the quality of the first two animated teasers. You can find them on their Instagram Shao Katana and Live Shoot or in their earlier Tweets.

I could tell by the teasers that this project had the potential to become something big, and this was just a hint of what the team was capable of. The seamless animation of having Shao cut the Azuki posters with her Katana was amazing. Especially at the end where she sheaths her sword and it transitions to her poster, then cues the music. Then the live action video of the small boy arranging the Azuki posters seemed like something straight out of a movie. I felt like I was at the entrance of the Azuki story, brand, and dope theme that would carry on to their future material.

The team also did not disappoint when the Azuki NFTs revealed. The level of detail in the art is nothing short of beautiful. Not only that, there were Azukis of many variations from male, female, skin types, hair types, etc. You can see a lot of representation from these 10,000 Azukis that almost anybody can find something that resonates them. While I can go on-on, I think it would be better to personally take a look in the Azuki gallery.

Credits to steamboy, and artist team!

The Team

If the art is meant to catch your attention and be the face of the project, it’s the team that makes it more. Without a good team leading, a good community can’t form and the NFT would be nothing more than a JPEG. That’s not to say community is not important, but no community would gather and support a poor team.

Personally, I’m very focused on the team when looking into a project because I have been rugged before. While many project teams are anonymous, I try to look for a team who are doxxed (public) or at least look like they didn’t pop out of nowhere. It was difficult in Azuki’s case since most of the Azuki team are anonymous, however, steamboy is doxxed. He is the former Character Art Director at Overwatch, and the artist and co-creator of Azuki. After seeing someone who works for a big game series on the team, I felt reassured and put some trust in the project.

From there, I tried to do as much research as I could on the team. Following everyone’s Twitter account, looking at their tweets, and listening to recorded spaces\AMAs I missed. With ZZZAGABOND leading as the key speaker, I was impressed by the team’s professionalism and commitment to their vision for Azuki.

The phrase, “actions speak louder than words”, is something that I think rings true with Azuki. There are a few examples I can give on what the Azuki team has done, but the one that I love is ERC721A.

With ERC721A, Azuki has developed a new algorithm, which for the first time ever in the NFT space, enables minting multiple NFTs for essentially the same cost of minting a single NFT

I was really excited when the developer team announced it. As a self-taught developer, this is something I find fascinating. Azuki released a product that helps people save money, improves the NFT space, and made it open for other projects to adopt. It displayed their dedication not only to Azuki, but to the overall NFT community.

The Community

Community, community, community. At this point, it’s almost like a chant in the NFT space. Like the team, a community is also what makes or breaks a project. We’re the consumers, the shareholders, the core, and the flame that keeps the project alive and growing. The team builds the house and the community fills it. The community is what we stay for.

When I first hopped into the Azuki Discord, I was surprised by how chill the atmosphere was. There wasn’t any news about the project. No release date, no requirements for whitelisting, etc. There was no chat grinding or spamming either. People were just there to hangout, get to know one another, and have genuine conversations. It was refreshing. This atmosphere also allowed the team to select genuine people for their mintlist (aka whitelist).

The community since the release has grown and developed, but nothing has changed fundamentally. It has continued to be an authentic, fun, and helpful community to be a part of. I find myself constantly in the Discord to chat with others or follow conversations throughout the day. I see how welcoming the community is towards newcomers. Everyone treats each other with respect (minus some few bad eggs here and there) and there’s such a variety of people coming in and out. I think this human connection and interaction makes this space enjoyable. It’s about being part of a group that loves something and wants it to succeed.

Lastly, I want to shout out to the amazing Azuki mod team who helps make the community what it is and also the kissaten channel.

The Brand

So what makes Azuki different from any other project? It’s the brand or identity that they are shaping. I think nothing captures their vision more than the Azuki website. (This is also me fangirling over the website).

If you visit the website, I suggest turning on the dope playlist in the bottom left-hand corner. They composed the playlist with a variety of Asian\Non-Asian hip-hop and rap artists with the occasional lo-fi genre making its way in. The songs on the playlist change, but just from the turning on the music, I think you can already grasp the vibe Azuki encompasses.

Next, we enter The Garden where we receive a clear and concise introduction into what Azuki is.

Azuki is a brand.
A new kind of brand that we build together.
A brand for the metaverse. By the community.

A collection of 10,000 avatars that give you membership access to The Garden. It starts with exclusive streetwear collabs, NFT drops, live events, and much more that will be revealed over time. Community ownership in Azuki allows for a new genre of media which the world has yet to explore. An Azuki is your identity in the metaverse — let’s build together.

The Garden is a corner of the internet where art, community, and culture fuse to create magic. The lines between the physical and digital worlds are blurring and the rules are being rewritten.

Take the Red Bean.

The beginning of the text immediately states Azuki’s intent in the space. It is a brand for the Metaverse made by the community. Then it continues to explain more of what Azuki plans to do. It definitely feels like a start of a story or journey. A debut that says “here marks the starting line, would you like to take the red bean and jump down the rabbit hole with us”. I love the play on The Matrix red pill or blue pill scene that they used too. (Fun fact, Azuki means red bean in Japanese.)

In The Matrix, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill by rebel leader Morpheus. Morpheus says “You take the blue pill… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill… you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The red pill represents an uncertain future, unknown to Neo at the time, he takes the red pill — it would free him from the enslaving control of the machine-generated dream world and allow him to escape into the real world, but living the “truth of reality” is harsher and more difficult

It’s enticing, it’s interesting, and it draws you in. What happens when I take the red bean? What journey am I going on? I think they did a good job of making a newcomer intrigued enough to want to know more.

If the Garden encounter didn’t reel you in, read the Manifesto. It reinforces what Azuki is here to do.

Here comes a new wave… And surfing here is different. Breaking down barriers. Building open communities. Creating magic internet money with our friends. To those who don’t get it, we tell them: gm. They’ll come around eventually.

Here’s to the ones with the courage to jump down a peculiar rabbit hole. One that pulls you away from a world that’s created by many and owned by few… To a world that’s created by more and owned by all. From The Garden come the human beans that sprout into your family.

We rise together. We build together. We grow together.

Ready to take the red bean?

Finally, I believe the Mindmap is also what helps set Azuki apart from other projects and overused Roadmaps. I like how the team understands the NFT space doesn’t work linearly. It is still in an infant stage and many of us are trying to figure it out. Azuki leads with their vision and adapts as the space changes without letting go of their values. I love their dedication to long-term building and growth.

Conclusion To be honest, I don’t know what the future holds. Azuki is still new and it could all come crashing down. However, I’m bullish on Azuki and I’m here for the long term. I honestly don’t care about short-term profits. Azuki can grow and become something really amazing. I trust in the quality the team produces. I love and enjoy being a part of the Azuki community.

Thanks for reading! IKUZO!