Bored Ape Yacht Club launched as a grassroots community project in April 2021 and quickly became the hottest NFT collection in the world. In 2022, an anime-themed collection is starting to steal its thunder. It’s called Azuki.
- Azuki is a collection of 10,000 anime-inspired NFTs that’s soared in popularity in 2022.
- With airdrops, private events, and ambitious plans for the future, the project shares some similarities with the most successful NFT collection, Bored Ape Yacht Club.
- Like Bored Ape Yacht Club, Azuki NFTs trade at a hefty premium on the secondary market.
Several bullish catalysts reminiscent of Bored Ape Yacht Club’s early roadmap have contributed to Azuki’s rapid ascent.
Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Ascent
Cartoon monkeys and pixelated Punks aren’t the only sought-after avatar collectibles in the Metaverse today—NFT enthusiasts are also shelling out big bucks on anime-inspired artwork for their online identities.
Since the NFT avatar scene exploded in 2021, many collections have come and passed. A few, however, have grown to become so-called “blue chips,” in turn attracting huge interest and hefty price tags on the secondary market. Though there’s no formula for what makes a winning NFT project, the leaders in the space all thrived by building passionate communities and executing on their roadmaps.
Bored Ape Yacht Club, a now-iconic collection of 10,000 cartoon monkeys launched by Yuga Labs in April 2021, was arguably the first NFT avatar project that did everything right. There was a fair launch with a low entry price (apes cost around $200 on mint). There was no gimmicky marketing or paid advertising in sight. There were promises of a full Metaverse experience and generous rewards that enriched those who stayed loyal to the brand. And there were even exclusive merch drops and private parties featuring guest appearances from the likes of Questlove and The Strokes. By the end of 2021, Bored Ape Yacht Club was so big that some of the world’s top celebrities and companies were aping in. Not long after, Yuga Labs hit a valuation of $4 billion in a raise led by Silicon Valley giants Andreessen Horowitz and acquired what was previously known as the world’s most prestigious NFT avatar collection, CryptoPunks, signaling that times had changed and monkeys were now sitting on the NFT throne. The ApeCoin token was then released to power Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Otherside Metaverse. Today, the cheapest apes set Ethereum users back around $375,000—a price tag only the rich (or crypto-rich) can justifiably afford for a JPEG.
Azuki NFTs Go Parabolic
If things move fast in crypto, they move at lightning speed in NFTs. New drops land daily. Archive collections everyone forgot about can blow up out of nowhere. What’s hot today can die tomorrow. And just as Bored Ape Yacht Club was the star of 2021, Azuki may well take its place under the spotlight in 2022.
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Launched by the Los Angeles startup Chiru Labs in January 2022, Azuki’s 10,000 Ethereum-based NFTs quickly sold out on release. Similar to how apes are considered members of a yacht club, Chiru Labs sold a vision for Azuki in which holders would get access to The Garden, “a corner of the internet where art, community and culture fuse to create magic.” Community members were styled as the “skaters of the Internet.”
Then there was the artwork. The collection stood out from many of the animal-based avatar projects that have saturated the NFT market thanks to its distinctive anime style, taking inspiration from the popular trading card game Pokémon. “Most of the Azuki core team got into NFTs through NBA TopShot, where opening up a pack of NFTs invoked the same emotions as opening up that first pack of Pokémon cards back in the day,” a note on the Azuki website reads. Beyond the crypto space, the anonymous team also says it has experience in Big Tech firms like Google and Facebook.
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