Have you ever found yourself streaming an animated show on a platform like Netflix or Crunchyroll and thought, “Man, I wish I had to take like 14 extra steps before watching this. The show’s great, but it would be even better if the entire experience was needlessly convoluted by blockchain technology and artificial scarcity.” Yeah, neither has anyone else.

That said, Blockchain tech firm Replay has partnered with comic creator and artist Rob Feldman to make an animated adaptation of his comic book Cyko KO for their Web3 streaming service, Rewarded.TV, with episodes distributed through NFT drops that started last Friday. 

This would normally be filed under “Who Gives A Shit?” but Feldman and Replay have recruited actors Jon Heder, Tina Majorino, Efren Ramirez and Jon Gries to join the cast of Cyko KO, a "Saturday morning cartoon-inspired, all-ages title” about a group of sci-fi misfits tasked with defending SuperEarth’s colonies from the monsters and mischief-makers who would seek to destroy them. The crypto cartoon is an unofficial Napoleon Dynamite reunion, which officially makes the timeline we're in the weirdest possible.

So how did this happen? Well, this isn’t the first time that crypto evangelists have attempted to legitimize their crap electronic assets and the crypto market as a whole beyond their ‘use’ as an investment (or gambling) mechanism. 

Nor is Cyko KO the first crypto cartoon – last year, Emirati production company Zaini Media attempted to capitalize on the popularity of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs with their animated show The Red Ape Family, a poorly written, even more poorly animated sci-fi web series which followed a family of recognizable NFT characters as they embarked on Rick and Morty-esque space adventures while spouting out references to Elon Musk and Jake Paul. Despite being a complete creative failure, The Red Ape Family succeeded in becoming “the first show of its kind where episodes are sold as individual NFTs,” according to its website

However, the show would hardly be the last attempt to bring artificially scarce digital apes to life – Robot Chicken creator Seth Green has been deeply embedded in the NFT market since its emergence, and he is currently working on a NFT-integrated show called White Horse Tavern. Green first revealed his creative crypto project at VeeCon, grindset influencer Gary Vee’s multi-day crypto conference. The series appears to be a mashup of live-action and digital characters with Green’s own animated NFTs playing featured roles alongside very confused looking human actors.

The project hit a snag this past May when the show’s lead character, Bored Ape Yacht Club #8398, was stolen from Green’s crypto wallet in a phishing scam. Production halted, and the series was all but doomed – imagine trying to film the next season of Succession after someone kidnaps Brian Cox – but Green paid a $260,000 ransom for the safe return of his leading man, and White Horse Tavern seems to be on track for some sort of wide release, though neither a premier date nor method of distribution have been publicly announced.

So why are Napoleon Dynamite's cast part of this? The Cyko KO comic doesn’t share any similarities with the bizarro cult classic film, but their group casting might simply be a publicity stunt on the part of Feldman and Replay in an attempt to bait viewers/investors who would otherwise be wary of another NFT TV show.

According to the limited statistics available on NFT investors, millennial men seem to be the most inclined to spend money on NFTs compared to other demographics. Napoleon Dynamite was a massive hit among the middle-school crowd in 2004 – perhaps this casting is an attempt to tap into the nostalgia of the series/NFT’s intended audience/buyers.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Hey Napoleon, give me some of your Garlicoin

Whatever the motivation behind this bizarre reunion, we sincerely hope that the final product is more palatable and successful than some of its competitors in the hybrid NFT/TV show market. The insistence among creative crypto enthusiasts that blockchain technology will somehow enhance our enjoyment of traditional media is a dubious proposition at best, but if the end result is a watchable series, what does it matter which platform hosts the content? 

Other shows have used the NFT model successfully – Mila Kunis distributed her animated show Stoner Cats through NFT drops, featuring Jane Fonda, Chris Rock, Ashton Kutcher, and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin as voice actors. The pilot episode/first NFT drop grossed $8 million, which allowed her to produce four more episodes/tokens available for purchase on the Stoner Cats website.

It's unclear if Cyko KO can reach an audience that will watch the show for its entertainment value instead of simply speculating on its monetary value. Those who purchase Cyko KO NFTs will not only unlock episodes of the show – they will also earn the opportunity to accrue Replay’s native cryptocurrency RPLAY tokens simply by watching Cyko KO or any other film or TV show on Rewarded.TV in what has been described as a “watch-to-earn ecosystem.”

If Netflix lost the bidding war for The Office to a shadow organization of Bitcoin hoarders back when it first bought the streaming rights, perhaps we’d all be streaming our favorite shows out of crypto wallets using WatchCoins to unlock each episode like those coin operated TV’s that used to be in motels. 

And perhaps crypto streaming will crash and burn like so many other crypto schemes – I’m still waiting for the cryptodeed to my property on Cryptoland.

Top Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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