Cover art by @ckuverse on Instagram
Cobra Kai is a fun, captivating sequel to the Karate Kid films. Karate Kid was a series of movies that followed Daniel Larusso, a high school student who recently moved to California. The first Karate Kid film shows Daniel being taught karate by his neighbor, Mr. Miyagi, to defend himself against Daniel’s bully, Johnny Lawrence. Cobra Kai is set decades after the karate tournament that took place in the first Karate Kid movie. The series shows a grown-up Daniel and Johnny as they continue their rivalry and each start their own karate dojos. It also shows the lives of some high school students who join the dojos, such as Sam, Daniel’s daughter, or Miguel, who becomes Johnny’s first student. Despite Johnny and Daniel’s competitiveness being a little ridiculous at times, it causes a lot of humorous drama, and the relatable characters make the show very engaging.
I really like the characters in Cobra Kai. Daniel, one of the main characters, is determined, confident, and amiable. He’s a little less forgiving than he was in the Karate Kid series, but it feels like a realistic change, especially considering how far apart the movies and show are set. Daniel had very genuine-seeming relationships with his family in the show, which includes his daughter, Sam. Sam is very kind and friendly. Despite hanging out with the more popular, rude girls at her school, Sam is usually very nice, showing her strong values. Throughout season one her relationship with her dad is strained a little as she gets closer to her friends and doesn’t spend as much time with her family. Sam also learns karate throughout the series, as well as goes through issues with her friends, who often act passive aggressive or fake.
Another main character in the show is Johnny Lawrence. Johnny is a little more caring than he was in the movies, but he’s still a very selfish character. Throughout the series viewers watch him become a little more kind to those around him, especially toward his first student, Miguel. Miguel is one of Johnny’s neighbors. He is very kind and optimistic, especially in the beginning of the show. His genuine personality is a good contrast with Johnny’s self-centeredness, often giving the show some humor. As Johnny gets closer to Miguel, this causes some strain on Johnny’s relationship with his son, Robby. Robby, who isn’t close to Johnny, later joins Daniel’s karate dojo, which causes even more strain on his relationship with his father.
There were a lot of things I enjoyed about Cobra Kai. One of my favorite aspects of the show was the fact that all the main characters were very morally gray. Unlike the Karate Kid films, where there was a clear protagonist and antagonist, Cobra Kai allows viewers to empathize with all the characters, as well as both like and dislike them several times throughout the show. I think it made the characters more realistic than many shows I’ve watched, where there are often clear “good” and “bad” characters. I liked how overall realistic the main characters were in general. Although the storylines were often improbable, many of the characters felt like real people, and the balance of realistic characters and slightly unrealistic storylines gave the show a captivating feel. The actors worked well together, and the bonds between characters felt genuine. I also liked how the karate training in this series was a little more realistic than it was in the Karate Kid films.
There were some things I didn’t like about this show. The plot points often seemed a little too fake or cheesy. This is especially true in the later seasons, where it seemed as though the show was trying to make storylines happen just for the sake of shock value. There were also times when the storylines could be easily predicted, especially those involving relationships between characters. Although the main characters seemed very realistic, some of the side characters felt like stereotypes.
All in all, I enjoyed this series. The plot could have been a little less predictable, but the characters were very entertaining, and I’m looking forward to season four. I would especially recommend this show if you enjoyed the Karate Kid movies or shows with fun, tight knit characters such as On My Block. You can watch the three-season series now on Netflix.