For as long as users have set their own PFPs on community sites, one type of PFP has survived for decades: the anime PFP. From the 90s to the early- to mid-2000s of net-based communities, Western anime fans were primarily teens and adolescents who caught hits like Dragon Ball Z on Cartoon Network’s Toonami programming block, and Cowboy Bebop on Adult Swim.
Thus, avatars in this foreign yet completely distinct style gave users who’d chosen them an air of mystique. Back then, you could say it was even a little edgy to use a Goku, Vegeta, or Spike Spiegel PFP back then. Now? Some argue that it’s… well, cringe. With the explosion in popularity that this entertainment medium has enjoyed over the past decade, this once-exclusive club has fallen far from grace.
For instance, if you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’d probably have encountered questionable takes from users that seem to hide behind their shonen flavor-of-the-week PFPs. Or worse, absolutely unhinged takes from users hiding behind their waifus. If this is a foreign concept, let’s hope it stays that way.
But does this mean that all anime PFPs carry this weight online? Not anymore. With the rise of anime PFP NFTs, users can now construct their digital personas around anime characters completely detached from any fandom — and its fans. In its place, are the communities that holders of these anime PFPs rally around. Join us for a brief overview of what’s happening in this growing sector of the NFT space.
Release Date: January 12, 2022
Let’s get the big one out of the way. Anyone who’s done even a bit of digging on the biggest PFP NFT collections has at least heard of Azuki. To our eyes, this 10,000-piece collection of undoubtedly aesthetic anime PFP NFTs is eerily reminiscent of Tetsuya Nomura’s designs for Square Enix’s cult hit The World Ends With You, doused with all the swag and rebellion of skater culture. It’s no wonder, then, that the denizens of the NFT community found lots to like about these PFPs.
When Azukis first hit the market, the hype was as real as can be, and the collection’s rise to fame remains one of the quickest ascents the NFT space has seen thus far. But that journey to the top didn’t come without a few bumps in the road. In May 2022, reports surfaced regarding ZAGABOND — the Azuki creator — and his history of abandoning prior NFT projects he’d been involved in. Regardless, the ship looks to have been righted since then, and community sentiment has largely recovered since the unfortunate news dropped.
Release Date: November 29, 2021
Anime-only fans of Berserk, and to a lesser extent, Attack on Titan, are all too familiar with a direction the industry’s taken in recent decades: CGI and 3D animation are here to stay in anime, for better or worse. However, for fans of CloneX, that’s hardly a bad thing. Forgoing what could be an awkward cel-shaded style in favor of avatars rendered in lovely well-lit 3D, this 20,000-piece collection has a lot of great-looking anime characters for interested collectors to choose from.
Since its late 2021 launch, the project has steadily trended upward. Whether it’s how Nike acquired RTFKT Studios — the creators behind the project — or a collab with Japanese pop-art sensation Takashi Murakami, fans of the project have found lots of things to love about the direction it’s gone thus far.
Release Date: August 19, 2021
Although not the first anime-themed NFT project to hit the market, 0N1 Force is one of the earliest to hit it big. As of writing, the project’s seen a trading volume amounting to nearly 50,000 ETH, or almost $70 million today. For a collection of cool anime PFPs, that’s no so bad.
So what is it, exactly? As implied by its name, each anime PFP NFT in the 0N1 Force collection depicts an anthropomorphized oni from Japanese folklore. Thankfully, for those looking to actually use these NFTs as PFPs, each avatar’s ogre traits are heavily toned down. You’ll just get subtle visual cues like slightly pronounced fangs, or striking neon skin colors. So, in short, like how most anime depict characters of this nature in the first place.
Release Date: March 24, 2022
If seeing the word “Kiwami” might have taken you a moment back to Kamurocho, calm down for a moment. We don’t have an NFT collection featuring the Yakuza series’ colorful cast of characters just yet. So what is this collection, then?
Proudly built in Japan, this collection encourages its holders to “chase the tsunami” by picking up one of the anime PFP NFTs within. Featuring colorful side-profile anime avatars that blend elements of cyberpunk, streetwear, and Japanese folklore in equal parts, anime fans are sure to find a piece in this collection that undoubtedly represents who they are. “For those who are Kiwami; extreme, loyal, driven, and ineffable— you’ve found your people,” Kiwami proudly claims on its website.
Release Date: February 2022
Billed as a collection depicting “The Junkiest Web3 Weebs,” Shonen Junk’s pedigree certainly allows it to back up such claims. A key figure in its development — James Lin — also helped create another product that anime fans all over the world love. Crunchyroll. Yes, the anime streaming service.
As such, and with “over 9,000 [!!!]” pieces (yes, they went there) in this collection are countless references to some of the most beloved anime franchises of all time. From Neon Genesis Evangelion to Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Dragon Ball Z, and more, there’s a weeb-y something for everyone here. If you ever wanted the chance to own an image of Shinji going Super Saiyan, this collection is for you.
Release Date: April 2022
There’s a lot of anime out there besides your usual shonen fare. Shojo also deserves any self-respecting anime fan’s attention — and much of this is due to the longstanding tradition of magical girl anime. Of course, before there was Cardcaptor Sakura, and long before Madoka Magica, there was Sailor Moon.
This is the era in anime that Shinsei Galverse’s creators intend to take you back to with this collection, which covers the whole spread of 80s magical girl anime styling. So who are they? Shinsei Galverse is led by noted Japanese crypto artist Ayako Ohira and Emi Kusano, mother to Zombie Zookeeper — one of Japan’s brightest young crypto artists — and singer on this certified banger. Rendered in era-accurate style and possessing that unmistakable haze that all old anime tend to have, all 8,888 Galverse anime PFP NFTs depict Galverse’s take on magical girls. In the future, the Galverse team hopes to use proceeds from this collection’s sale to turn the Galverse into a full-fledged anime.
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