Watch On, Watch Off: Binging The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai Series (First Impressions & Thoughts Reviews) | Fanboys Anonymous

Everyone has their blind spots with movies and television shows, where they ask themselves "Why haven't I seen that yet?" despite how massive it is in pop culture. One of those for me was The Karate Kid series.

Like Back to the Future (which I didn't watch until 2019—I know, I know. But I liked them, so it's all good!), this was a franchise I simply hadn't watched when I was a kid (I'm a product of '87, mind you) like most people who tend to love this.

I'm always worried that with those films and television shows, not watching it when I'm a kid will spoil much of the mystique and wonder that gets people hooked, as that's happened before with me. And, to be honest, there are films and shows that I loved as a child and teenager that don't hold up now that I'm in my mid-30s, so why would I believe anything other than that could be the case for this, too?

Surely, if I watch it now, I won't like it, because I'll be watching it with the eyes of a 35 year old. Then, I'll have to always say to people that I don't like it, rather than have plausible deniability by saying I haven't seen it.

Well, finally, in September 2022, I decided enough was enough and that I needed to just pop on The Karate Kid and see what I thought. Frankly, it came out of pretty much nowhere. My brain just told me now was the time.

And boy am I glad that I had that random urge to binge.

So, while I was watching these movies and the Cobra Kai television show, I decided to tweet out some of impressions, rather than to do a full review for each project, or one generalized franchise review after it was all said and done. This way, you could get my potentially changing opinions throughout.

I did hold off on talking about anything until after watching the first three films, and I regret not tweeting out some thoughts midway through and at the end of each of those movies for some little gems about how great the song "Cruel Summer" is and such.

Nevertheless, I present to you my tweets, first impressions, running thoughts, review commentary and random asides during what I ended up referring to as a binge series called "Watch On, Watch Off" of the four Karate Kid films and every season of Cobra Kai. Enjoy.

Thoughts After Karate Kid Part III

I got done #3 earlier. Going to start The Next Karate Kid sometime tonight. Here are my takes so far:

  • Mr. Miyagi is THE MAN. Definitive. From the start. Easily the best part of the series.
  • I love how Daniel is equal parts kind of a jerk sometimes, but with a heart of gold. He never breaches that line of being a punk kid or annoying, or too sappy.
  • Pure 80s. I love it. They even take the time twice to remind us with "it's the 80s" dialogue haha
  • The easy-to-spot yuppie villain (give a guy a slicked back ponytail, an ill-fitting suit and a giant cell phone and make him smile, he's your bad guy) and all, too lol
  • Kumiko >>>> Ali Mills >> Jessica Andrews
  • Johnny Lawrence >> Mike Barnes > Chozen Toguchi
  • John Kreese >> Sato > Terry Silver
  • John Kreese says no actual dialogue to Daniel. He only grunts and such, and talks to other characters. Weird, right?
  • It's funny how with #2 and #3, they promptly went "Yeah, we don't need to see the mom. Miyagi is all we need." And they're right. She would have only taken away, because Miyagi is the heart and soul and, I repeat, THE MAN. We all need one of him in our lives.
  • Its interesting watching this as an adult instead of a kid. I'm sure people who watched it in the 80s/90s and grew up on it identify more with putting themselves in Daniel's shoes, having a crush on Ali and so on. As per usual, I hate that I missed out on that.
  • More thoughts maybe to come. I might write up something about this or do a podcast or whatever. And I'll check back in with a follow-up after I watch The Next Karate Kid, which I'll admit I'm not as excited about, but maybe I'll be proven wrong.

Thoughts After Watching The Next Karate Kid

  • Trash all across the board haha.
  • Miyagi is still great, but it's all so bad. Julie-san is insufferable compared to Daniel-san.
  • Had I watched this back in 94, though, add Hilary Swank to the list of crushes (like the Pink Power Ranger lol)
  • Gotta love that the grandmother is so fed up with Julie that she just takes a vacation and never returns at the end to be like "Wow, you've grown so much and we're going to be fine now" haha

2 Episodes Into Cobra Kai Season 1

Continuing on with my Karate Kid binge expedition, I've decided to skip the remake (at least for now) and start Cobra Kai. 2 episodes in, here are my initial thoughts. Let's see how they change over time, if at all.

  • Daniel-san running a car dealership makes PERFECT sense. I don't know why I didn't think of that ahead of time. He's using his skills he's picked up from helping Miyagi run the bonsai business (nice touch with giving every customer a bonsai tree) and the appreciation he had of the car in the first film. He's a good talker / salesman, too, so that fits.
  • Nice to see that they've kept his character as he was: goodhearted, but realistically a bit abrasive, and someone you could imagine someone else calling a prick. Even with Johnny Lawrence framed as the protagonist, we haven't grown to dislike Daniel. Lesser projects take that avenue of "but now, your hero is a jerk" because they don't know anything better (cough * The Last Jedi * cough)
  • Great job with Johnny Lawrence, too. He's still a jerk and a bully, but not a cartoonish bad guy impossible to connect with. As a protagonist with faults, he works super well. There's clear room for growth, but he doesn't need "redemption". He's already a guy we can root for.
  • Big fan of Miguel. Likable from the start. Not falling into the "annoying kid" or "insufferable loser you're frustrated to see is in this scene" or "too cool for school" tropes. I like the dynamic he has with Johnny. They can teach each other along the journey.
  • I haaaaate Daniel's kids and all their friends. Good job if that's the intention. While I get a sense that I'm not supposed to fully dislike Samantha, since she's already proven herself to have a conscience, she's going to need to do more to win me over. Anthony, though? Nope
  • Bo Mitchell would be the absolute perfect fan casting for Bulk in a Power Rangers reboot. He steals each scene he's in.
  • Random Ed Asner was random. I wasn't expecting that. But he's always a win. I hope he pops up some more.
  • I'm fully on board to see cameos from EVERYONE, so long as it makes sense, of course.
  • Martin Kove, Mike Barnes and the lunatic Terry Silver should DEFINITELY return as villains to put Johnny into perspective. Not sure if Chozen would make sense to pop back up, but I'm down.
  • Definitely give me Kumiko. Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed she's not Daniel's wife, but whatever.
  • Ali coming back would make sense for a typical "This is your ex?" tension storyline with Amanda.
  • I'm fine with no Jessica Andrews. She was meh. But I do want Julie to show up.
  • Amanda's okay so far. She's a voice of reason and not too preachy. Hopefully, she grows on me even more.
  • The same for most others. All the other kids like Robby and Aisha and Eli are just sort of there. Here's hoping they end up being worth connecting with.
  • MAN do I miss Mr. Miyagi. He was the best part of the series. RIP.

Thoughts After Cobra Kai Season 2

I've finished Cobra Kai season 2. Still haven't seen the reboot film, which I'll probably save for last.

Here's where I'm standing on some stuff:

  • I definitely ship Robby + Sam rather than Miguel + Sam.
  • My favorite parts of the show are Daniel and Johnny becoming reluctant buds. I want to see them actually join forces against Kreese.
  • Terry Silver DEFINITELY needs to return now in season 3. No spoilers!
  • I'm not sure what I want out of Ali's potential appearance now. It seems odd if she were to end up with Johnny. She's got a family and all. They could do the "yeah, well, things are better on social media than behind the scenes and we've split up" angle, but is that really where I want Johnny's story to go? I'm not so sure.
  • I know Carmen + Johnny just feels too convenient. Even though I wouldn't be opposed to it, they still need to build more on that before I'm okay with that as the 100% endgame, especially since Miguel means more to Johnny than Carmen in the grand scope. No reason why he can't be more "Uncle Johnny" in a sense more so than "my new step-dad" which is a bit on the nose.
  • I like Miguel + Tory. She's feisty. He's more reserved. That's a balance.
  • Stingray FTW.
  • Good for Moon, breaking up with Hawk. Fuck that guy. (Fan of the character, but in that universe, what a dick)
  • Anthony and Louie and a few others just totally got sidelined haha Some make sense, though.
  • I kind of want to see Kreese get increasingly more militaristic with Cobra Kai to the point they become a full-blown gang & this expands beyond a karate rivalry into a "heroic vigilante Miyagi-Do vs. Gang Cobra Kai" thing? Or is that just the superhero fan in me coming out?

Thoughts After Cobra Kai Season 3

Season 3 of Cobra Kai down on my Karate Kid series binge. Latest thoughts are as follows:

  • Kumiko continues to be great. Super glad to see her return. I loved how Yuna came back as a good karma thing to help save the dealership.
  • Chozen's face turn works, too. More evidence of redemption that we're applying to Johnny and now, even Kreese, with his backstory making him more sympathetic.
  • Speaking of that backstory, it is cool we got to see that more fleshed out.
  • I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thought Ponytail was supposed to be Terry Silver. That confused me at first when he died haha
  • Ali's comeback was basically what I was hoping for. I'm glad they didn't lean into the cliche of Amanda or Carmen being jealous, too.
  • I still think Robby + Sam is better than Miguel + Sam.
  • Nice to see Hawk turn away from Cobra Kai.
  • I dig the face/tweener/heel dynamic (in wrestling terms) for Miyagi-Do, Eagle Fang and Cobra Kai. Good balance.
  • Eagle Fang. LOL. Iron Eagle was taken.
  • Louie and Anoush returning was done well, overall, as far as just playing bit parts.
  • Big fan of Kyler coming back as a Cobra Kai. That makes perfect sense.
  • It's a good thing the LaRusso family has money, cause their shit keeps getting ruined all the time.
  • So I guess Tory + Robby is going to be a thing next season. Meehhh we'll see.
  • Get it, Demetri. Just don't give Yasmine a front-wedgie.
  • I want to try that chicken cacciatore.
  • Lots of product placement on this season. "It's just Crystal Light" and such
  • Interesting that they nixed Aisha. I wonder if they just couldn't think of what to do with her.
  • Speaking of not knowing what to do with someone, Anthony's been a nonfactor from the start.
  • Moon just went away, too.
  • It sure is convenient none of these kids has turned 18 yet to be disqualified from the Under-18 tournament haha
  • Still want a Julie-san cameo where she and Daniel can talk about their bond over Mr. Miyagi.

Looking forward to season 4!

Thoughts After Cobra Kai Season 4

Season 4 of Cobra Kai down on my Karate Kid series binge. Here are my latest thoughts:

  • I warmed up more to the Miguel/Sam pairing instead of Robby/Sam. After all, Robby's endgame isn't Sam, it's his relationship with his father, Johnny.
  • The Whopper Jr comment for Anthony's growth spurt was great.
  • So Sam and Aisha haven't talked pretty much at all about her moving and her new school and all? They don't text or anything? haha
  • Thumbs down on the Carrie Underwood cameo
  • Miagyi-Fang FTW. My favorite part of the show is perpetually Daniel/Johnny teaming up.
  • "Queen Cobra" vs "Bonsai Badass" = nice
  • Love madman Silver turning on Kreese and just being the worst piece of shit. He's awesome.
  • I'm not sure I feel like going down the rabbit hole of Miguel looking for his father, but hopefully, I'll be wrong about that.
  • LOL at LaRusso just going "Yeah, that deal to leave? Nah. Fuck that."
  • Chozen showing up at the end was a surprise.
  • Good call on the cheating finale to the tournament. I liked Amanda's interactions with Tory this season and it'll be nice to see Tory turn to the good side in season 5 (I'm assuming).
  • It's a good thing the new students have cheat codes and can fast forward their training
  • So the All Valley Under 18 Tournament really forces this story to end once these kids all turn 18, doesn't it?
  • I can't see the series lasting on the foundation of Anthony vs Kenny in comparison to the core cast of Miguel, Sam, Robby, Hawk, etc.

Looking forward to season 5!!

Thoughts After Cobra Kai Season 5

Holy shit was this a good season!! Here are some specific thoughts:

  • It might mean nothing to some, but being able to say "fuck" really does help this feel more grounded.
  • Big fan of Hawk getting the Miyagi-do cover-up tattoo. I'm curious what hair color he's going to stick with.
  • That story about Miguel's father was wrapped up super fast, but I'm down for it. Short and sweet.
  • Mike Barnes looks more of a bad ass now than in KK3. Glad he returned.
  • I still want to see Julie-san at least referenced, even though Next Karate Kid was awful.
  • Making Jessica Amanda's cousin and the way Daniel met her was a GREAT touch. It finally gives her purpose.
  • Great joke where Johnny's internet search auto-fills are "How to tell my student that I'm banging his mom" and "How to get rid of graffiti" and "how to find hot babes" - This show's writers not only have so much appreciation for the original films, but their own continuity.
  • Always great job on little details and callbacks, like using "protect the egg" at the end.
  • I'm glad Robby and Miguel worked out their issues AND responded so positively to the new baby, instead of it being a whole jealousy thing. It's totally going to be a girl.
  • "No mercy mother fucker" HELL YEAH. One of Daniel's best moments in the entire franchise.
  • Cutting off a finger and such? Nice way to up the stakes.
  • The Kreese death situation was SO GOOD
  • Chozen + Kumiko is a good way to wrap that up.
  • Season 6 feels like it pretty much has to be the finale. Where else could they go from here? Even though I only started watching this franchise a month ago, I've grown attached, so if they've got more seasons in them past #6, I trust this crew.

So....when does season 6 come out? Cause now, I just realized I'm out of material to watch until then, outside of the reboot film, and I'm going to go through some withdraw!

Eventually, I will watch that movie and add that information in here, as well as my thoughts on the next and likely last season of Cobra Kai. Maybe for that one, I'll go episode by episode to fully flesh this out.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about this franchise by leaving a comment below to keep the discussion going!


Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.