Manga has been the fastest growing category in the U.S. comics market over the past decade, outpacing all but graphic novels for younger readers. Despite the fact that there are more manga available to English-language readers than ever before, the volume that reaches these shores is only a fraction of the total number produced by Japanese publishers.
Readers with an appetite for content beyond the selection offered by publishers like Viz and Kodansha on legitimate apps know they can find what they’re looking for online, but legally questionable It can only be found on pirate sites. So, as long as the price is affordable and a compelling choice, it’s time for a new company to give ethical fans legal access to unpublished original material through licensing deals with smaller Japanese publishers. There is room left.
Azuki It is one of the companies that recently entered the market. Co-founded in 2019 by five young industry veterans (Adela Chang, Abbas Jaffery, Evan Minto, Krystyn Neisess, and Ken Urata), the virtual company launched its app amid the pandemic and received an investment from Y-Combinator. We achieved steady growth through capital injection. , and a burgeoning assortment of new titles. It has grown to an extended team of dozens and still operates virtually, not out of the office.
“We all worked [Sony-owned anime platform] We were in touch with Crunchyroll,” said co-founder and CEO Abbas Jaffery. “Existing models had similar problems, and since we put a lot of effort into building the app, Manga asked himself what he wanted from the app.”
At launch, the subscription service featured manga series from Kodansha International and Kaiten Books, and quickly expanded to include more publishers and exclusive titles licensed and localized directly by Azuki. Today Azuki offers over 200 of her series. Yakuza babysitting guide, BLITZ, Gacha Shoujotai, Attack on Titan, Fire Brigade, and additional publishers such as Futabasha, Micromagazine, ABLAZE, and Starfruit Books. The site has hosted more than 1 million unique his active users and served over 30 million pages of content since launch, according to the company.
While the Azuki app is subscription-based, the company announced a program on Amazon’s BookWalker to distribute downloadable and ownable e-books of original and licensed content.
Marketing and Licensing Director Evan Minto said: “We do our own scouting for titles our subscribers like. This curatorial approach gives us the mindset of a publisher, not just an app.”
In the digital comic space dominated by Amazon’s comiXology service (which offers manga alongside other types of comics), manga-only platforms like Shonen Jump and Viz, and South Korea-based Webtoon, which offers optimized material. The road that Azuki navigates is narrow. Vertical scrolling format for mobile.
According to Minto, Azuki’s subscription model ($4.99 per month for unlimited access), its focus on localization with a dedicated team of translators, letterers and editors, its curation of diverse subjects, and its passionate approach to material. He says the combination helps differentiate them from others.
“Manga offers a better discovery experience because it can get lost in other types of content,” he said. “The subscription model is different from paying for chapters or owning by download because it encourages people to try out new material.” You can know that
“We feel we can bring more value to the manga market and accelerate its growth,” said Jaffery. “The potential of manga in the English market is less than 25%.”