- Overall 7.0
- Story 7.0
- Acting/Cast 8.0
- Music 7.0
- Rewatch Value 5.5
I am a fan of fantasy and supernatural stories so I'm inclined to like these type dramas. I gave all three vampire k-dramas (Blood and Orange Marmalade) a go in 2015, and Scholar is the best one. However, that might not be saying much.
Based on a much loved manwha (sorry if I spelled that incorrectly), there were a lot of expectations for this drama. I found the first 6 episodes to read more be quite good, and I was happy enough with the story. Unfortunately at around episode 7 through approximately 11ish, the story just floundered. Even after that it was uneven here and there. Since I was watching this as it aired, I did see that the production had to bring in a second writer by episode 10 so they knew they had a problem with the adaptation. This is the reality of the live shoot system. It is my understanding the source material was very complex with lots of stories and threads, and I believe they really tried to do too much and it got away from them. Most of the issues I personally had with the drama have to do with how it was adapted specifically the story choices made regarding defeating Gwi.
Also, the last episode in regard to the timing of events and the culmination of the drama was all over the place. Definitely a victim of a rushed live shoot or a writer drinking too much soju. As far as the ending, of course, no spoiler. I was fine with it but it wasn't totally satisfying. I'm kind of over watching dramas of manga/manwha etc when the source material is still being written because I feel it ties down the drama story.
Music: Like 90% of k-dramas, the OST is overused. I liked all but one song and, much to my surprise, that one grew on me over time. Apparently many took a dislike to what I'll call the "quirky" song but this just isn't a big deal to me personally. I'm in it for the story.
Cast: Changmin: I thought he pulled off charming quite well, dramatic less so.
Lee Soo Hyuk: People took a liking to Gwi, who is pretty much total evil, because LSH is hot. I mean if I had a dollar for every time I've read that. I thought he was a little cardboard, but someone who read the source material said that this is how Gwi pretty much was so I'll take their word for it. I've since seen him in Lucky Romance and a few episodes of Neighborhood Hero, and I thought he was good.
Lee Yubi: Okay, this gal gets so much grief, and I definitely noticed that people who saw her in a lot of other dramas seemed more critical. I don't judge an actress on what the writers have her do in a drama. I mean c'mon that's not right. I can't speak to the "wide eyed look" that seemed to irk others. I was actually fine with her and found her more believable dressed as a boy than a lot of other k-drama actresses I've seen. I thought she and LJG had a sweet chemistry....not off the charts but given the age difference and historical genre, pretty much what I expect.
Lee Joon Gi: He was great and the reason many people stuck with the drama. I personally thought the vampire scenes should have been toned down but that's the way the production decided to go so okay. LJG has grown as an actor, and I love him but he can go OTT if not careful. I do have to say that they play up how pretty he is in this drama so to see him go play Wang So with half his face covered and the weight loss making his features more angular is just kind of fun.
I thought this was beautifully filmed and the costumes were gorgeous.
Final Analysis: As far as some type of coherent vampire supernatural drama, nope it just isn't going to work. However, the romance really worked for me so if you want to give it a go for that you might have to do some fast forwarding. If you can't buy into the two leads together, best to move on.
One last thought....I do want to give credit to all the actors I mention as well as others in the production because this drama got trounced by the end of Mask and then Yong Pal. (Though it did beat the 3rd drama...maybe Assembly...it's been a while.) This production was obviously having difficulties behind the scenes, and the actors stuck with it and gave it their all. Since the leads take the heat when these things happen, I bow to Yubi (regardless of what people think of her performance) and LJG because that couldn't have been fun, especially after both being injured in some kind of accident during filming. If at any time I felt that they weren't invested, I would have bailed and they gave it their all imo 'til the end.