Set in a fantasy world where humans and vampires coexist, the latter have evolved and no longer rely on human blood as food. Still, they are feared and discriminated against by society, causing many of them to hide their true nature and live as "normal" citizens, or else become outcasts.
Baek Ma Ri is a socially withdrawn teenage girl hiding her vampire identity. Driven away from several neighborhoods, she is eager to settle down in her new city and live quietly. But things change when she falls in love with Jung Jae Min, the most popular boy at her high school.
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Orange Marmalade has an interesting take on an amalgamation of cliches - you have high school romance, Joseon era romance, love triangles, love squares, vampires falling for humans and vice versa, accident-followed-by-amnesia - anything and everything cliched is here. And yet, it's got an impressive take on things. Issues like discrimination, friendship, acceptance and maturity show up frequently here.
As many have said before, the drama can be split into 3 parts: High School Part 1 (HS1), Joseon Era (JE) and High School Part 2 (HS2). I liked HS2 a lot more than HS1, because HS1 seemed more rushed to me than HS2, if that's even possible! JE was actually enjoyable to me, believe it or not. I liked watching it but more so because of the relationship between Jaemin and Shihoo. In the HS2 part, I have a certain weakness for Ara - maybe it's because I find her relatable? The HS parts, both 1 and 2 could have been developed more and tied in better with the JE section and we could have had more character development - mostly Shihoo and Ara!
Unfortunately, the show really takes hits here. I gave it a 6, because it's barely above average to me. Yeo Jingoo does well in his role, however his restraint comes through as bland, which is definitely a problem. Still, I think it was good and he did well. Unfortunately, Seolhyun was really weak in her role and it really takes much away from the drama when the lead is not on a good level. Her visuals were perfect but her acting left much to be desired.
Onto better things! Lee Jonghyun - what can you not do, seriously?? Even though I came in here as a Boice and expected to be biased, Jonghyun really did almost meet my expectations. He wasn't spectacular but he did well in portraying traits which I felt defined Shihoo - the delinquent bad boy brashness and aloofness which later translates to a reticence and maybe even awkwardness? Gil Eunhye is gorgeous as Ara and she really does justice to the role - ah, why do I like Ara so much...? I also enjoyed Park Guntae's character a lot - he kind of looks like BTOB's Lee Changsub to me? Or is it just me? Seriously, the supporting cast really made me watch on!
Cute but not memorable. The main song that Orange Marmalade performs sounds very much like an anime OST and honestly, I don't remember much else about the drama's music. Though, special mention to the flute piece that played in the JE part - I loved that!
Once is enough for me.
While it wasn't utterly disappointing, it wasn't quite the best, either. The reason the rating went down was because of a lack of character development and partially due to weak acting. I think most of the epiosdes were hit-or-miss for me but with the last episode being a total hit - I'm glad I went through with it!
Orange Marmalade embodies all of the above and some.
So how did I end up watching Orange Marmalade and stuck with it through to the end? Because there was enough intrigue to this madness and it was sufficient to keep me tuned in each week.
I was fascinated by the boldness (or some may say craziness) of the production team to take on a challenge that is such a departure from the normal formula of kdrama success. It is supposedly an adaptation of a popular webtoon but it is nothing like its predecessor. It is but a myriad of cliche tropes, creatively brave screenwriting, mix in some non conventional programming, good looking casts, and there you go - Voila! Orange Marmalade!
At first I was intrigued by the mini teasers which did a fantastic job of marketing the show. I was sold by the mystique of the elusive vampire girl and the puppy eyed, longing stares of Jae Min.
Yeo Jin Gu’s superb acting won me over in those few seconds. I am already a fan of CNBlue’s Lee Jong Hyun therefore having him as the second lead was a bonus.
Two episodes in, I was ecstatic! The Show exceeded my expectations. It started out really well in introducing the storyline depicting the struggles of the vampires trying to live incognito among humans; reminiscing of real life discrimination faced by many in our society today. And throw in a few light-hearted hilarious moments, I was sold! My reaction...Wow! They did that on prime time public television?
Episode 4 was the turning point for me. The pace was suddenly so fast it was like watching a completely different drama. Suddenly the Show introduced all kinds of loopholes, sub-plots and question marks. And then the big reveal - flashbacks to the Joseon era. At this point I was close to dropping the show but curiosity kept me reeled in.
It turned out I actually liked the Joseon episodes the best even though I was cringing when I first heard about it. I really enjoyed Shi Hoo’s story in the Joseon era. His character had more depth and layers than the other two leads. The bromance between Shi Hoo and Jae Min was cute and touching. The love story between Jae Min and Ma Ri was endearing but a tad ordinary and predictable. I actually felt more for Shi Hoo’s restraint love for Ma Ri. It was respectful but heart rending. The secondary characters were interesting and their stories closed the gaps in understanding the relationships of these characters in the present day.
I also enjoyed the story development surrounding the human-vampire conflict and how the pact was reached that carried to the modern era. I was mostly invested in Shi Hoo’s story though how the show dealt with him in the present day was a tad too convenient for my taste.
The chemistry between the second leads was excellent but in typical kdrama fashion it was a bit rushed in the end.
Overall, Orange Marmalade had its moments but lost a lot of fans from the misleading advertising, inconsistent storytelling/pacing and the modern to historical jumps. But I am glad it didn’t suck and it definitely wasn’t a complete waste of my time.
The music was catchy and melodic but to be honest the exact tunes have totally escaped me so it must not be that memorable.
Is it a rewatch? No, it is one of those unique shows that will certainly divide but even for the faithful, a rewatch is probably not likely.