What is Azuki NFT? A Complete Guide

What is Azuki NFT? A Complete Guide

by Julian Lopez-Acosta
It's no secret the NFT space is filled with trends and metas—PFP collections, "walking" GIFs, and 3D graphics, to name a few. But the most significant trend—anime—has been blowing up for months and continues to pick up and carry the NFT rampage.
Azuki NFT riding a skateboard with a BEANZ NFT

All NFTs must pay homage to their forefathers. 8-bit collections derived from CryptoPunks, Ape knock-offs from BAYC, etc. Azuki NFT was the one who started it all for the Eastern-style NFTs. 

But there’s more to Azuki than just being a leader in digital artwork. Azuki is by far one of the strongest web3 brands in the ecosystem. The dev team pioneers on many fronts, including its minting contract, fractionalized NFTs, “mind map,” and community comes first approach.

There are layers to Azuki, and BEANZ NFT is one of the newest additions to the brands that may take it to the next level. But before we get into it…

WTF is Azuki NFT?

Azuki Mindmap page

Azuki is a blue-chip collection of 10,000 NFTs, taking inspiration from the art direction of popular Japanese comics called manga while indulging in skate culture for its brand identity. The NFT collection dropped back in early January and raked in $29 million in mere minutes.

Azuki NFTs are all unique from each other, just like any generative collection. Some NFTs in the project are 1 of 1s and have sold for upwards of half a million, to even $1.4 million dollars. However, those are just the rare collectibles from the brand—the most common ones are selling on secondary for 13.4 ETH, equivalent to $28,000. 

I know what you’re thinking: there has to be some merit to this NFT other than the artwork if people are unloading their wallets for it. Is there utility? Is the community one-of-a-kind? Well, yes and no. The utility and community are there, but it isn’t worth the ludicrous price tag. 

What makes Azuki Azuki is its brand. According to their website, “Our vision is to create the largest decentralized brand for the metaverse built and owned by the community.” You can bet your bottom dollar they’re doing this. 

Azuki aims to become a pillar of web3 culture. They stand for three values:

  • Putting the community first
  • Being creatives at heart and challenging the status quo through original ideas
  • Trusting the process and taking time with their roadmap
Arnold Tsang painting a video game character
Arnold Tsang is the only doxxed team member of Chiru Labs

And these values are of utmost importance for the brand. The team, composed of anonymous anime-fanatics, ex-big tech talent, DeFi builders, software engineers, and the all-so-famous Arnold Tsang: a leading character designer for Overwatch and full-time conceptual artist for Azuki, is guiding the community. But that’s about it. 

The community is in charge of the project—at least, that’s the dream. So the question remains: how are they accomplishing this, and how will they continue down this road for what’s to come?

The “Mindmap” and milestones

Azuki’s roadmap is robust, well-thought-out, and, most importantly, original. They even named it “Mindmap” to differentiate themselves from the competition. 

What makes Azuki’s mindmap tick is its far-fetched goals and the team’s track record. Tsang stated “the dream is for Azuki to have such big IP (intellectual property) that there’s an animated series, maybe even games and all kinds of merch.” 

Even if there are web3 projects that have the same intent as Azuki, none of them have provided a shred of proof that they can—and will—succeed in their mission. So, what approach has the team used to stick the landing?

It all stems from the NFT’s special IP governance.

Bobu the Bean Farmer

Man taking a slice of Bobu the Bean Farmer

Let’s start with Azuki #40, also known as Bobu the Bean Farmer. Bobu is a web3 experiment orchestrated by the team but governed by the community. It’s one of the first fractionalized NFTs, in which Azuki holders can purchase ERC-1155 tokens (referred to as “Bobu tokens“) to participate. 

Bobu is stored in a locked smart contract where it can’t be sold entirely, but Fractions of the token are distributed to Bobu token owners. When you own a Fraction, you have the power to vote on what the smart contract does. You also obtain access to Discord channels in the Azuki. 

Over the year, we’ll see governance proposals arise from the team. Owners will get the chance to vote, and thus they’ll be a pivotal part in the development of the character/brand. As time goes on, we’ll probably see Bobu products released to the public and voted on by the community. 

Check out Bobu’s Twitter here.


Once a project reaches blue-chip status, the dev team often releases a second correlated NFT collection to enable greater access into the community. 

PROOF Collective did this with Moonbirds NFT. CyberKongz dropped 15,000 voxel avatars, with only 5,000 reserved for OG CyberKongz holders. BAYC was followed by MAYC… you get the gist of it.

A day before April Fool’s, during the Azuki Garden Party in Los Angeles, the team announced they would be airdropping two “something” NFTs to holders.

Azuki's "Something" NFTs

Speculators were ecstatic about the drop… but no one knew what was in it. The airdropped NFTs quickly rose in price, reaching 3.15 ETH within a single day and generating $52 million in sales in its first week. The funny thing is, people were buying into the NFTs and raising the price solely on hype.

Three weeks later, the Azuki team finally tweeted what the airdrop was about. They called it BEANZ, a sidekick to the Azuki NFT. The idea behind the release was clear-cut: The team wanted to expand the Azuki brand and continue target the same anime-loving audience.

The “sidekick” resembles a bean, and it pairs with the OG Azuki NFT without changing it at all. Instead of storing metadata on-chain like most other project releases, the graphics are hosted on IPFS. Pretty cool if you ask me.

The team only revealed the identities of two beans before launch: Toshi and Gus. Both have their own peculiar and fun identities, though it seems like the blue bean will have an interactive storyline to go with it.

BEANZ NFT OpenSea page

On May 5th, the unhatched beans were revealed in all their different shapes and sizes. Some holders got “chaotic energy” BEANZ NFTs, with coffee in both hands and a sleepless attitude. Others unpacked gym bros, who love to rep their tank tops and sweatbands.

Owning a BEANZ NFT grants access to a holder’s only Discord channel and merch drops. So it’s just like Moonbirds NFT; you get a slice of the community without having to empty out your wallet to get in on the fun. Although to be fair, it will still cost you a pretty penny to buy into the collection.

Azuki’s ERC-721A contract

The Azuki team is always planning for more. They want to build a metaverse, video game, and even a record label for upcoming artists. And although we could go on and on about their extensive milestones, one of their most notable contributions to the NFT industry was implementing the ERC-721A contract.

Instead of using the standard IERC-721 contract, which is optimized for minting one NFT in a single transaction, Azuki made waves by reducing gas costs for minting multiple NFTs within the same transaction.

Cost savings from ERC-721A contract

So now, instead of paying an arm and a leg in gas fees when minting more than one NFT, you just have to pay a couple extra dollars. This is innovative, and it’ll help long-term investors and flippers alike.

The introduction of the ERC-721A contract paved the way for other NFT projects. It also showed Azuki’s true colours—they weren’t just all talk, they actively cared about the community, and they wanted people to save money. The team wasn’t kidding when they stated they would put the community first.