The One Issue Tamlyn Tomita Had With Kumiko’s Storyline on Cobra Kai

Tamlyn Tomita

Getty Tamlyn Tomita talks at PBS segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour.

In the 1986 martial arts film The Karate Kid Part II, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) travels to Okinawa, Japan, with his sensei Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). During his trip, he meets a young dancer named Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita). The teenagers soon develop feelings for each other and make plans for Kumiko to visit Daniel in America. Unfortunately, she joins a dance company in Tokyo before she could go on the trip, and their relationship comes to an abrupt end. 

The former couple reunites over thirty years later during the third season of Cobra Kai. Daniel, who was on a business trip in Japan, sees Kumiko perform with her dance students at the Tomi Village shopping center. They catch up over lunch, and Daniel reveals he feels lost without his late sensei’s guidance. Kumiko then invites him to her house and reads him letters written by Miyagi. The following day, she has him meet with his former rival Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), who makes amends with him. 

Tamlyn Tomita Spoke About Reprising the Role in a January Interview

Tamlyn Tomita

Getty Tamlyn Tomita is all smiles while speaking at the PBS segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour.

In a January interview with the Los Angeles Times, Tamlyn Tomita discussed revisiting the role of Kumiko. During the interview, the actress, who is of Japanese and Filipino descent, revealed that she was disappointed with how Japanese culture was presented in the Karate Kid Part II. To better represent Okinawa on Cobra Kai, she decided to “translate things from Japanese to hōgen, Uchinanchu, which is the Okinawan dialect” in the scripts. Tomita also brought “three pieces of luggage with Okinawan artifacts and art” to be used on the show. 

While Tomita stated that she was overall pleased with her character on Cobra Kai, she did have one issue. She noted that she would have liked Kumiko’s storyline to have been further developed but understood that she needed to play a specific role in Daniel’s life. She told the publication: 

I think there were a lot of things unsaid, because I don’t think [Cobra Kai’s creator’s Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg], as young as they are, know how to speak as a woman and they didn’t consult me. Are there things that I would have liked to have said as Kumiko? I think so. But again, I knew as Tamlyn that I had to serve the story. I was just happy to be in service of that but also to serve the giving of the letters to Daniel-san. That’s what was important. 

The Actress Revealed She Would Like To Be in More Seasons of ‘Cobra Kai’

Tamlyn Tomita

Getty Tamlyn Tomita strikes a pose for the 25th Anniversary of “The Joy Luck Club” event held at The Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

In a February interview with film critic Steve Varley, the Joy Luck Club star expressed interest in playing Kumiko again. She noted that she is in contact with Cobra Kai’s creators and texts them about certain aspects of the show. 

“I’m able to write and text and go ‘oh my gosh that was a great scene.’ That’s the gift for me to be able to be able to have that door open, so whatever they have in their minds absolutely,” said Tomita.

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