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Western Animation / The Karate Kid

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In the 1989 series, Miyagi (Robert Ito) and Daniel (Joey Dedio) continue their adventures when a magic shrine is stolen from a Japanese temple. Along for the ride is Taki (Janice Kawaye), a temple girl. It follows them from place to place as they hunt the shrine and help the natives.

While its decent animation pleased fans of the film the series it is based on, NBC screwed the series and canceled it after only thirteen episodes due to low ratings. Fortunately, Sony has made the entire series available on iTunes and has been streamed on Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, and Tubi.

This series includes the following tropes:

  • An Aesop: One or more of the characters learn a lesson quite regularly.
  • Alternate Continuity: This continuity is based on a Broad Strokes version of the movies.
  • Berserk Button: In "The Return of the Shrine", Taki's aunt hates it when her hair is messed up.
  • Call-Back: In "A Little World of His Own", Daniel tells a lonely boy that he knows what being the friendless new kid is like, most likely a reference to the first film.
  • Canon Foreigner: The series introduces Taki, an expy of Kumiko.
  • Catch a Falling Star: In "The Homecoming", Miyagi grabs Taki after she falls trying to get the shrine.
  • Continuity Nod: In the theme song, Miyagi incapacitates an opponent and honks his nose, just like he and Daniel did to Mr. Kreese and Chozen in the second film.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: "Walkabout." Daniel is on a ledge above the lava for several minutes. It doesn't harm him at all.
  • Dramatic Drop: Kina when Daniel and Taki come suddenly into her hut. It's more significant than most examples because she drops the remaining water from the Fountain of Youth.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Or sequence. The opening shows how Daniel and Miyagi got involved and why Taki is with them.
  • Expy:
    • Taki is an expy of Kumiko.
    • Brick from "The Homecoming" is essentially an even worse (as in, utterly devoid of positive qualities) version of Johnny Lawrence.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Every episode ends with Daniel about to recover the shrine when a freak stroke of bad luck causes it to slip from his grasp and end up being transported to another random location (for instance, in one episode it was tied to some balloons and floated away). One episode has them actually obtain the shrine and return it to Okinawa. By the end of the episode, it's lost again. The darn thing really doesn't want to stay in one place.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Daniel's Uncle Jack in "The Paper Hero." He confesses that he made up the impressive exploits he told Daniel as a kid and apologizes for putting him in danger by taking him along on a raid. By the end, he's resolved to rack up some real accomplishments.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Tina helps Brick steal the shrine, but she clearly doesn't like doing it and tries to keep him from hurting Daniel in the process.
  • Feuding Families: In "The Return of the Shrine", the Ishakis and the Takimuras are fighting over a past grievance and the shrine.
  • Fountain of Youth: In "Over the Rainbow" the trio stumble onto a hidden community with one fueled by the shrine.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Anytime they got near the shrine, they would inevitably have to give it up to save somebody. Its nature meant that it would inevitably be gone by the time they got back to it. This gets weirdly played with in "The Hunt", however. While hunting the shrine, Miyagi and Daniel join the crew of a whaling vessel, and the climax sees the captain's daughter and Daniel get tangled in the nets. They yell for help to their respective father(-figure)s, and one might expect Miyagi will turn around to rescue his student (especially given the parallels between his situation and the captain's), but he tells Daniel to hold on a little longer. While he's chasing the shrine, Daniel gets rescued by someone else. No one makes any comment about it.
  • Implausible Boarding Skills: In the opening sequence, Daniel surfs using a torpedo.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: In "All the World His Stage", the actor Taki has a crush on refers to her as Daniel's girlfriend. She answers that Daniel is more like a big brother, which the actor is glad to hear.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: In "A Little World of His Own", Walter uses the shrine to shrink Daniel, Miyagi, and Taki.
  • I Shall Taunt You: In the first episode, the protagonist Kala calls his jailer "breath of the baboon" so he'll come back and Kala can steal his spear.
  • Literal Metaphor: At the end of "Tomorrow Man", Mr. Miyagi playfully predicts Roland the Magnificent's future. Daniel jokes back by asking his mentor what he sees for him, and Mr. Miyagi says he sees the fruit of Daniel's work spread at his feet. When Daniel gets up, he accidentally yanks the tablecloth, leaving the fruit they're eating on the ground. Taki quips that his future is already coming true.
  • Never Say "Die": In "The Paper Hero", when it looks as though Daniel might have fallen into a Death Trap, Taki asks, "Is he —" She never finishes the sentence.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: In "My Brother's Keeper", both Miyagi and the Big Bad encounter threatening crocodiles.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: In "The Return of the Shrine", the Ishakis and Takimuras spend the whole episode fighting over the shrine, only for it to be lost again at the end. They realize the error of their ways and stop their feud.
  • Nonchalant Dodge: Daniel just leans back and to the side to avoid a bully's punches in "The Homecoming" and "A Little World of His Own".
  • Not-So-Phony Psychic: A case where even the psychic himself is surprised: in one episode, a fake psychic begins to get flashes of real psychic abilities. The episode opens up with his partner off stage reading off information from a married couple's wallet, but the husband doesn't fall for it and demands information not in the wallet (the names of their children). The psychic tries to talk his way out of it, but then to his own shock say correctly, "Scott and Melissa!"
  • Not What It Looks Like: In "The Return of the Shrine", Taki promises to save all her dances for Yoshi. Yoshi's aunt (who disapproves of the relationship) sends one of the family to force Taki into "dancing" with him. When Yoshi comes back, Taki tries to tell him this.
  • Once per Episode: Daniel doing some stunts and failing, while Miyagi doing the same thing and succeed.
  • One-Line Anxiety: In "All the World His Stage", Taki gets cast as a chambermaid in a King Arthur epic because the lead actor has a crush on her. She goes through several different inflections of her one line.
  • Percussive Maintenance: In "The Homecoming", Miyagi kicks Papa Tony's truck as the last resort to fixing it.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: When Daniel tells Taki about the visions he's been seeing in the shrine's ball, she tries to comfort him by pointing out that the second vision showed it raining, and the sky is cloudless. It turns out that Daniel's attempts to prevent the vision caused a car to hit a fire hydrant, resulting in "rain."
  • Save the Villain: Miyagi pulls the Big Bad of the first episode out of croc-infested waters.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In "The Tomorrow Man", Daniel sees three prophecies in a magician's crystal ball, two depicting mundane events and the third showing Mr. Miyagi being hit by a truck trying to get the shrine. Understandably, he tries to prevent the first two prophecies from coming true, but only succeeds in causing them instead.
  • Slippery MacGuffin: Good luck on anyone holding onto the shrine for long, this includes the heroes. With the regularity this happens, you almost wonder if the shrine itself has a part in it.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: A man grabs Taki by the wrist during "The Tomorrow Man", forcing Miyagi to throw something to rescue her, even though she knows some karate herself.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Taki and Yoshi in "The Return of the Shrine." They're in love, but their families' feud over the shrine and a past grievance threatens the relationship.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: In "My Brother's Keeper", the Big Bad transforms himself into a jaguar.
  • What Have I Done: Roland the Magnificent almost hits Mr. Miyagi with a truck while trying to make a getaway. Afterwards, he's horrified at what he almost did and apologizes.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Walter in "A Little World of His Own".
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: Miyagi and Daniel know each other from the films; Taki is just along for the ride.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: In general, nearly anyone who gets their hands on the shrine becomes corrupt by the easy power it offers, with varying levels of their reason going bye-bye.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Brick in "The Homecoming" backhands his girlfriend Tina when she tries to keep him from going after the shrine.
  • You and What Army?: In "A Little World of His Own," Daniel confronts a group of bullies picking on Walter.
    B.J.: You and what army?
    Daniel: Who needs an army?
    He stands still, dodging as needed, and breaks B.J.'s skateboard when B.J. tries to hit him with it.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: This seems to be the Aesop being set up in "The Tomorrow Man." Daniel sees a set of prophecies in a magician's crystal ball, culminating in Mr. Miyagi getting hit by a truck as he attempts to get the shrine. Despite his efforts, the first two prophecies come to pass. Miyagi is unruffled, claiming that getting the shrine is more important. Then the third prophecy starts playing out. Daniel hesitates, afraid he'll cause the prophecy to occur by trying to prevent it. However, after a brief pep talk from Miyagi, he jumps into the cab and stops the truck just in time. The Aesop of the episode is therefore not "you can't fight fate" but "you make your own fate."