Giant Robot Podcast: Tamlyn Tomita

In 1986, a wire thin Ralph Macchio was cast again as karate champ “Danny” in Karate Kid 2. This time, he leaves the San Fernando Valley and travels to Japan with his Karate sensei, “Miyagi” played by Pat Morita. Miyagi needs to visit his dying father. Meanwhile there’s drama between he and his old rival friend, but stealing scenes is Danny’s hot female love interest, Kumiko portrayed by Tamlyn Tomita in her acting debut.



At the time, young Asian American female leads were scarce and Tamlyn Tomita became the woman by which many Asian American females were gauged. She was the crush of kids everywhere and 25 years later is quietly celebrating her debuts 25th anniversary. Only the Hawaii International Film Festival screened Karate Kid 2 and invited Tomita to the islands, and that’s where I caught up with her. In her Halekulani hotel suite, I got to sit down with Tomita to ask her every question I had boiling for the last two and half decades.

There’s a joke in my family that when Tamlyn Tomita’s name ever gets brought up, I’m quickly hovering the conversation. Crushes can run for decades.


Here’s a few memorable quotes:

On Karate Kid 2, “Changed by Freakin Life.”

“25 years ago I was known as the Karate Kid Girl, and now I’m known as the Glee mom. If you want any more evidence that 25 years have passed, there you go.”

“I look at a person, ok this one probably in his 40s I’ll refer to Karate Kid, if it’s a woman 25-40 I’ll say Joy Luck Club. If it’s a young teenager, it’s Glee.”

Yes, we went to Waiola Shave Ice. Perhaps the best in the world.


  1. 15 November 11, 9:52am

    Tamlyn Tomita is my hero! (And she’s FOXY!!!) :)

    • Paul Nice
      16 November 11, 11:07am

      I know she’s ethnically Japanese and maybe it was her role in Joy Luck Club that made me think of her, but I always thought she would’ve been perfect as “Libby-Ah” if they had ever made a film version of The Hundred Secret Senses. Just saying.

  2. Brad
    16 November 11, 4:38pm

    Good catch Giant Robo! I’ve been a fan of Tamlyn Tomita for a long time — since Come See the Paradise. Yep, it’s an oddly named movie, but Tamlyn Tomita was lookin’ hot.

  3. r
    17 November 11, 9:04am

    can you post a mp3 download or post on itunes, to listen to on ipod not computer

  4. Leland Navarro
    21 November 11, 10:48pm

    Excellent post, as I’m a huge KARATE KID 2/ JOY LUCK CLUB (not really a GLEEk) fan and MAHN TAMLYN TOMITA LOOKS HOT! Better than she did as Kumiko! Ralph Macchio may have broken some glass and learned an almost impractically awesome karate move from a traditional Japanese toy, but I would sweep his leg so fast, then proceed to sweep Tamlyn Tomita off her feet. Cheesy, but true!


  5. v3
    25 November 11, 1:38pm

    you took her to waiola? you trying to seduce her????

  6. David
    16 April 12, 5:19am

    I love you, Tamlyn!

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