Azuki (YC W22) – All-you-can-read manga subscription

Hey there, we’re Abbas, Evan, Adela, Krystyn, and Ken from Azuki (https://www.azuki.co/). We’re a subscription service for reading digital manga (Japanese comics) on Web, iOS, and Android. With Azuki you can easily read official translations of the latest chapters or dive into our back catalog of hit manga and hidden gems.

We’re in a golden age of manga. More and more series are getting translated and released in English, but publishers still can’t keep up with fan demand. Print shortages due to Covid and the long production pipeline of print books mean that lots of series take months or years to get official releases in English. And believe it or not, print sales still dwarf ebook sales for English manga!

We are huge manga fans and wanted a way to easily access lots of new manga without filling up our bookshelves, paying for thousands of individual ebooks, or resorting to piracy. That last one is important, since manga piracy is still rampant, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible to support creators by reading official releases. Most of us worked together at Crunchyroll (the anime streaming service) where we learned a lot about how to grow a subscription product and an associated fan community. Evan also worked for many years as an anime/manga journalist and podcaster, and Adela had experience in manga localization.

All that led to Azuki. For a single subscription fee ($4.99/month), we offer unlimited access to high-quality official translations of new chapters from more than 20 ongoing series including EDENS ZERO, The Seven Deadly Sins: Four Knights of the Apocalypse, and The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting. Most new chapters are available in English at the same time as they go on sale in Japan! The subscription also includes a huge back catalog, with hit series like Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail, and acclaimed indie manga like Pop Life and Children of Mu-Town.

All of this is available to read in our apps on Web, iOS, and Android, with series progress and reading lists shared across the apps. Fans love us compared to other manga reader options because of the easy access to the latest chapters (no need to buy individual ebooks for each one), our diverse catalog featuring series from six different publishers, and our dedication to presenting manga pages in the highest possible quality.

By the way, there are over 150 currently running manga magazines in Japan, with each usually releasing either weekly or monthly. Each magazine serializes anywhere from five to over 30 series on a chapter-by-chapter basis. That‘s a huge amount of comics, and only a fraction of it makes its way to English-speaking markets right now. We need more!

The most popular and visible genres of manga are action and fantasy adventure (things like EDENS ZERO and Four Knights of the Apocalypse), but there are a lot of fans looking for other genres, especially romance (A Sign of Affection) and comedy (Grand Blue Dreaming). We were a little surprised by how popular some of those series ended up being!

Our customers primarily use us to read new manga chapters released simultaneously with Japan, known as “simulpubs” in the manga industry. But we also offer community features to let fans talk about their favorites, in comment threads and in our official Discord. It’s been really cool meeting these fans and watching a community grow up around the service.

In terms of our business model, we charge a monthly subscription. We pay out royalties to publishers based on how much each user reads of each series, and keep the remainder to pay for our operations.

We’d love for you to give Azuki a try! Most series have the first few chapters available for free (with ads), and there’s a 30-day free trial so you can try our Premium membership before you pay anything. We seriously appreciate any feedback you have about the service and how we can improve, and we look forward to talking manga in the comments. Thank you!



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andrey azimov by Andrey Azimov