“Cobra Kai”: A true wave of nostalgia or another reboot flop?

Lischa Mears, Reporter

“Cobra Kai” is a show that continues the journey of Johnny and Daniel-san decades after “The Karate Kid” film series. 

Previously a series streaming solely on YouTube Red, now known as YouTube Premium, Johnny and Daniel-san have found great success in the new dojo of Netflix. Since the debut of the series on Aug. 28, the series remained in the Netflix Top 10 list since the day of its release.  

Despite the initial doubt from viewers, “Cobra Kai” has proven to be much more than just another reboot of a popular franchise. 

Decades after the All Valley Karate Tournament of 1984, Johnny Lawrence is a lonely and jobless handyman who struggles to get through each day to meet financial deadlines.  

Daniel LaRousso, on the other hand, is a successful car salesman who is happily married to the love of his life. After a fateful turn of events, Johnny is inspired to rebuild the infamous Cobra Kai dojo and gain control of his life. 

This new journey leads to the rekindling of the buried rivalry between Johnny and Daniel. 

With the return of original characters, “Cobra Kai” efficiently captures the interest of viewers by altering prior perceptions of beloved characters. As opposed to the character dynamics in previous renditions, Johnny is now the underdog who must strive to reach the top while Daniel is the current hero gleaming in the light. 

This change in character dynamics has been positively received by audiences and loyal fans alike. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the series contains an impressive score of 100%. 

“What the series does to strike balance is not provide a real ‘Good vs. Bad’ plot, but a more complex, realistic look into familiar characters, and backstory behind some new faces,” Rotten Tomatoes critic Adriana Gomez-Weston wrote in her review on The Cinema Soloist.  

In altering the character dynamics from previous works, this series delves into deeper themes of the human experience. 

Rather than confining characters to the limited roles of heroes and villains, “Cobra Kai” portrays characters as individuals who are motivated by emotions and make mistakes. This means that no character is inherently good or bad with the painted picture of a tragic backstory.  

Instead, the show presents characters as individuals who are shaped by experience and make the decision to utilize mistakes to grow as individuals. This flip of the script engages viewers by effectively developing the characters in a manner that viewers can relate to. 

The series also implements the theme of gaining confidence through seeking individuality.   With the appearance of new and familiar faces, low self-esteem is illustrated in the lives of both adolescent and adult characters. Each character combats this natural occurrence by seeking the outlet of karate that they find represents a part of who they are. 

This theme highlights that, regardless of age, individuals must continue to grapple with the complexities of finding individuality. 

In order to emphasize themes of the human experience, through the form of karate, the series executes stunts that leave viewers astonished. 

“They [actors] want to do as much of the fights as they can themselves as far as our actors go. And we’ve just gotten really lucky because they’re all actually really good,” stunt coordinator Jahnel Curfman said. 

With actors continuously training to create realistic fight scenes, viewers of the series greater resonate with the expressed themes in the show. This is due to the reflection of the actors’ work in capturing the growing rivalry between opposing characters. 

Some may argue that in the series the continuation of rivalry hinders the development of characters by retaining them in the past. However, this overarching presence of rivalry emphasizes the complexities of the human experience and the balance that each character must find to move forward. 

“Cobra Kai” proved to be much more than the former idea of a reboot. Through the implement of strong storytelling, beloved characters, relatable themes and realistic stunts the series takes viewers on a wave of nostalgia and self-growth. 

In essence, “Cobra Kai” provides viewers with no mercy in captivating their attention and hearts, for this series is most definitely worth the fight.