The character Kumiko, played by Tamlyn Tomita, was introduced in the 1986 film The Karate Kid Part II. Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) begins a relationship with the young dancer while he is visiting Okinawa, Japan. While they are only together for a brief time, the teenager invites Kumiko to come to America before admitting he is in love with her. Unfortunately, she joins a dance company in Tokyo before she can visit, and the couple eventually loses touch.
In the third season of Cobra Kai, Daniel returns to Okinawa and runs into Kumiko. They grab lunch and reconnect. During their meal, Kumiko reveals that she has never been married, causing Daniel to respond flirtatiously.
“Come on, I’m supposed to believe that a guy never got a ring on that finger,” said the LaRusso Auto Group owner.
“Many tried. But none of them fought to the death for me,” replies Kumiko, referring to the fact that Daniel saved her from his rival Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) during the 1984 O-bon festival.
The former couple later goes to Kumiko’s house, where she reads letters written by Mr. Miyagi to Daniel. The following day the pair get drinks together, and their hands lightly graze. They smile shyly at each other before they are interrupted by Chozen, who is seeking to make amends with Daniel.
Ralph Macchio Talked About the Relationship in a December Interview
In a December 2020 interview uploaded on the Comic Book Resources YouTube channel, Ralph Macchio addressed the fact that his character, who is a married man, may have feelings for his ex-girlfriend. The actor first revealed that he felt he and Tomita still had chemistry despite not working with each other for over three decades.
“We were like 16 years old. We couldn’t — I couldn’t help but be like — there was such a sweet chemistry that we had back then and still have today,” said the actor.
He then suggested that he believes Daniel may still view Kumiko in a romantic light.
“LaRusso, you know, he’s a family man, that’s his life. But you wonder if he thought boy what if, what if this ever continued. You know does he have those feelings?” said the actor.
He then compared Kumiko and Daniel’s ill-fated romance to Rick and Ilsa’s short relationship in the 1942 film Casablanca.
“It’s more like ‘we always had Paris’ kind of thing. She’s moved on with her life and he’s moved on with his and she hands off wisdom. She’s like an extension of Mr. Miyagi,” explained the actor.
Tamlyn Tomita Discussed Working Alongside Ralph Macchio
In a January interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tomita spoke about being able to work alongside Macchio in Cobra Kai. She noted that she felt like barely any time had passed since they were last scene partners. She told the publication:
It was like slipping on a favorite pair of socks, or a beloved pair of shoes that still fit, that still are comfortable, and they still look good. [Laughs] That’s the important part. It was so easy, and we were just laughing, like, ‘Was it really 35 years ago? Has it been that long?’ Because it just feels like yesterday.
To see more of Tomita and Macchio, be sure to watch Cobra Kai Season 3, available to stream on Netflix.