The characters you love are offered to you in Cobra Kai which provides that extra look at Daniel and Johnny in their lives after high school.
If you grew up in the 1980s, it’s pretty likely that you saw The Karate Kid at least once. And even if you aren’t an ‘80s kid, you’ve probably seen the movie and its sequels playing on TV. In The Karate Kid, teenager Daniel LaRusso struggles to fit in in his new Los Angeles neighborhood and turns to Mr. Miyagi to teach him the art of karate. Daniel’s lessons culminate in the All-Valley Karate Tournament, where he fights against rival Johnny Lawrence and other Cobra Kai students, who are taught by a vicious instructor, John Kreese.
Through pain and adversity, Daniel is able to come away with a victory. Fast forward thirty-four years, and Johnny isn’t doing so well, while Daniel is a successful car salesman with two kids. However, life changes for Johnny when he defends Miguel Diaz from a group of bullies, and Miguel asks him for karate lessons. Neither Johnny nor Daniel has engaged in karate for a long time, but it can’t stay out of their lives for long, and soon a bitter rivalry grows between them as students in Los Angeles begin to sign up for karate lessons at their respective dojos. This is the plot of Cobra Kai, which has grown in popularity since it was first released on YouTube in 2018 and then moved to Netflix two years later.
The Nostalgia Factor
As mentioned above, The Karate Kid was a big hit in the 1980s, and it’s always nice to see familiar characters and plotlines that you loved in your childhood. Nostalgia is part of the reason Cobra Kai has been so popular. When you grow to love a character, you want to see them develop and change, and Cobra Kai has provided that extra look at Daniel and Johnny in their lives after high school.
While there are new characters like Miguel, Daniel’s daughter Sam, and Johnny’s son Robbie that contribute just as much to Cobra Kai’s success, Daniel and Johnny will always hold a special place in The Karate Kid’s fans’ hearts. There are also many plotlines that relate to the movies. In one episode, Johnny visits with old friends of his that used to attend his old karate dojo, Bobby, Tommy, and Jimmy, and learns that one of them is dying from a terminal illness. In another, Daniel visits Japan, like he did with Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid Part II, and runs into an old acquaintance, Kumiko. There are many characters, plots, and references that old fans and new fans alike enjoy.
Thoughtful Themes and Messages
Although the last thing any viewer wants to hear when they are watching TV is an endless lecture on morals and life, Cobra Kai manages to subtly weave many important themes and messages into its karate-themed plot. One of the most prevalent is how difficult it is to let go of the past, especially for Daniel and Johnny. Karate played a huge role in their young adulthoods, but it caused them a lot of trouble, and still does for the new characters in Cobra Kai.
The competition between their respective dojos only worsens the rivalry between them and makes it hard for them to move on. Additionally, Ali Mills, who was romantically involved with both Johnny and Daniel in The Karate Kid movies, makes a reappearance in the third season and dredges up old memories for both of them. More themes and messages that are peppered throughout include discipline, inclusion, and family relationships. The timelessness of these lessons is another reason why Cobra Kai has been so popular, and another reference to the nostalgia that drew so many fans in.
The Accessibility of Netflix
Cobra Kai was initially streamed on YouTube Red but was acquired by Netflix in June of 2020 after the first two seasons were produced and released. Netflix has over 167 million users across the globe, so just being put on the incredibly popular streaming platform helped the show reach millions of more viewers than it would have if it had remained on YouTube. The increase in popularity is largely due to the show’s move onto Netflix, and producers and actors alike have expressed their gratitude for the new opportunity.
The Karate Kid has been a beloved movie since the 1980s, with the familiar characters of Daniel LaRusso, Johnny Lawrence, and Mr. Miyagi, as well as what their lives revolved around: karate. Cobra Kai gives a glimpse at what life was like after the All-Valley Tournament for the characters and weaves important messages about the past and its impact on the future. If you haven’t gotten to watch Cobra Kai yet, tune into Netflix and start watching!