Azuki is a collection of 10,000 avatar NFTs inspired by anime artwork. The collection works like most profile picture NFTs (PFP NFTs,) utilizing a randomized selection of traits to create each unique character.
Released in January 2022, Azuki had one of the most successful NFT launches, selling out on OpenSea and LooksRare in just three minutes. During its release, Azuki generated an estimated $29 million and caught the attention of the entire NFT market.
In this article, we'll look at what Azuki is, how it works, what are Azuki's Beanz, how to buy an Azuki NFT, Azuki Controversy, and the project's future.
What is Azuki?
Azuki is a PFP NFT project consisting of 10,000 generative anime-inspired avatars. Its unique aesthetic has been compared to a combination of the 3D game The World Ends with You and the skateboarding magazine Thrasher.
Azuki was initially planned to be launched using a Dutch Auction (where a set starting price is made and decreases throughout the sale.) The dev team planned to set a starting price of 1 ETH for 8,700 NFTs (1300 were whitelisted) and decrease this by 0.05 ETH every 20 minutes until its price hit 0.15 ETH. However, as the collection sold out in three minutes, it never decreased in price. Instead, all NFTs were minted at 1 ETH- around $3246.
Post-launch, the value of Azuki increased exponentially, with Azuki hitting almost $300 million in transaction volume across NFT marketplaces like OpenSea. Lower value NFTs were selling for around $36,000, while rare options sold for over half a million USD. Azuki had become the eighth-most traded NFT collection worldwide in just one month, competing with household names like Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks.
How Does Azuki Work?
Alongside unique PFP NFTs, Azuki promised investors a long-term roadmap which helped attract the NFT community to the project. This roadmap included immersive 3D experiences, unique Azuki-themed merchandise, in-person exhibits for Azuki holders, and even a native currency called $BEAN.
Since its initial release, all holders have had access to The Garden. Within The Garden, holders can be the first to access collabs with other NFT projects, Azuki drops, clothing, tickets, live events, and more.
However, this initial roadmap was disrupted in early May 2022 after Zegabond (an Azuki founder) published a blog that mentioned his previous three projects and how each had failed. Each had been a big hit at the time and experienced controversy in one way or another. This decreased the price of Azuki's by over 45% and caused significant backlash throughout social media, which we'll go into more detail below.
As of January 2023, Azuki has continued to follow its roadmap, offering streetwear to members of The Garden, the creation of a Gallery Metaverse, and plans for Meta-games within the community.
Who created Azuki?
Azuki was created by Churu Labs, a group of artists and developers located in Los Angeles. Each member has a background in technology, gaming, and crypto, using a pseudonymous name to stay anonymous. They go by the names of 2pm.flow, location tba, HoshiBoy, and Zagabond.
Churu labs created Azuki to take PFP NFTs to the next level, aiming to impact the real world with in-person events, merchandise, and more.
What are Azuki’s Beanz?
In April 2022, Azuki launched a second collection called Azuki Beanz. This collection was more affordable than the traditional Azukis and had rumors to be linked to Adidas and Supreme (though these turned out to be untrue.)
The collection consists of around 30,000 NFTs, and each Azuki holder was airdropped a mysterious box that contained a unique character from the Beanz collection.
Azuki Beanz holders receive access to an exclusive Discord channel, with merchandise and collectible drops being announced in the future.
There are two BEANZ NFTs in total; one red and one blue, each with its own personality. Red BEANZ is a rule breaker, making his way from The Garden into the alley. Apparently, the Red BEANZ bites your Azuki if you tell him what to do.
The second bean is a blue BEANS NFT. Blue BEANZ is constantly getting into trouble. They annoy Azuki's and have a bad reputation.
How To Buy An Azuki NFT
You can buy an Azuki NFT on LooksRare and OpenSea.
Start by setting up an account and collecting your wallet on either platform. MetaMask and Coinbase Wallet are good options for this.
Once you've connected your wallet, search for Azuki in the search bar, ensuring the collection has a blue checkmark to avoid a rug pull.
Find the NFT you want to buy and click "Buy Now" to complete the purchase.
In May 2022, Zagabond announced he was behind three defunct projects; Tendies, CryptoZunks, and CryptoPhunks. CryptoPhunks, in particular, was seen as a huge issue amongst the Azuki community, as it was considered a rug pull after the dev team disappeared. Consequently, many investors started to question the legitimacy of Azuki.
But the criticism didn't stop there. After additional research, on-chain data discovered that the founder of CryptoPhunks completed a wash trade (when a buyer and seller collaborate to inflate the market.)This caused the Azuki floor price to plunge further, decreasing from 19 ETH ($ 45,410) to as low as 10.5 ETH ($25,095.)
To address the controversy, Zagabond held a Twitter space on May 10th, hosted by Andrew Wang, a popular cryptocurrency figure. Vagabond claimed that he handed off the communities, then tried to justify his actions by stating there's no rulebook for creators to follow.
However, developers who worked with Zagabond took to Twitter to share their experiences. In a detailed Twitter thread, "dvx," a former CryptoZunks team leader, stated that Zagabond was consistently dishonest about his work, failed to communicate with his team, and abandoned the project despite a roadmap already being in place. Other developers stated that Zagabond was scamming from the start and had no intention for the projects to succeed.
Despite this criticism, Azuki buyers actually increased by 1200%, with investors capitalizing on the lower floor price.
Final Thoughts: Is Azuki Still Worth The Investment
Although Azuki experienced negative publicity in 2022, it remains a strong investment option with a floor price of 14 ETH as of January 2023.
The dev team has successfully expanded the project with Azuki Beanz and continues to pursue the planned roadmap, providing value to holders in the process. This continuous investment shows that the dev team is invested in the long-term success of the project.
Nonetheless, as with any investment, completing your due diligence is always important. Only invest what you can afford and ensure Azuki is the right project for you before making any decisions.