TRUE BLOOD, JR.
Baek Ma Ri (Kim Seol Hyun) is socially withdrawn teenager who only hopes to make it to graduation day. However, as soon as she transfers to a new high school, she gains the attention of Jung Jae Min (Yeo Jin Goo) when she accidentally kisses his neck. Jae Min believes that Ma Ri is interested in him, after all he is the most popular boy at school, but he’s taken aback when she wants nothing to do with him. Little does he know that she is a vampire. In a world where vampires and humans co-exist, Ma Ri keeps her identity a secret out of fear of being discriminated. The drama is based on the webtoon of the same name.
Monsta X – 끌리는 여자 (Performed By 기현, 주헌) (A Girl I’m Drawn To (Performed by Ki Hyun, Joo Hun)
Another day, another vampire drama. Like a moth to a flame… Must. Give. It. A. Try. So when Orange Marmalade made its way to the screen, I took a deep breath and sat down to watch it. Having not read the webtoon series, I was pleasantly surprised that it dealt with issues of prejudice and bully, packaged with classic manhwa drama elements. These themes were quite prevalent in HBO’s True Blood as well if you ignore the gratuitous use of sex scenes.
The biggest issues I probably had with the drama were that the characters weren’t very interesting or dynamic, in and of themselves. They are archetypal characters that you see in almost every K-Drama. If it weren’t for the actors and how the drama went about unfolding the plot, I would have been turned off by the drama very quickly.
Yeo Jin Goo, being who he is, has an extraordinary ability to make you feel for his character. Despite Jae Min coming across as your typical, popular K-Drama teenager, his backstory with his mother (Lee Il Hwa) and stepfather, Hope High School’s Han Yoon Jae (Song Jong Ho) helped you to relate to his character. (And yes, I couldn’t help but compare their characters from Answer Me 1997 as it was quite a different dynamic.) I may not have seen eye-to-eye regarding his hatred for vampires but Yeo Jin Goo was able to make us see where his hate extended from and how he had to carry feelings of betrayal and a sense of abandonment.
As for Kim Seol Hyun, she’s not necessarily a bad actress as far as I can tell. Although I may have raised an eyebrow upon hearing that she was cast in Kim Nam Gil’s upcoming movie as his girlfriend, Ma Ri was a character that required my patience. Ma Ri seems to have been written as a passive character which I do understand. She’s the passive resistance set against people perception of the “violent vampire”. However, I think it’s Jae Min’s unwavering attraction for Ma Ri, despite his own prejudice, that makes me ‘ship them.
Orange Marmalade – 괜찮아요 (I’m Okay)
As for Han Shi Hoo (Lee Jong Hyun), I’ve seen Lee Jong Hyun play the angsty, rebel teen before and Han Shi Hoo doesn’t seem to be any different. While I did enjoy his interactions with Hope High School’s Queen Bee Jo Ah Ra (Gil Eun Hye) towards the end of the drama, he was quite effective as the third leg of the love triangle.
However, I enjoy his Joseon character far more than his modern day counterpart as his character does go through a transformation.
The drama is split into 3 parts which works in the scheme of the three-act structure. In the first act/part, we’re introduced to our high school characters as they fall in love. I was really surprised at how fast the drama seemed to be progressing but it makes sense when you learn that the characters were fated to be together since their Joseon era reincarnations in the second act/part. I will warn that there is a bit of the “amnesia” syndrome that occurs in the third act/part but I actually didn’t mind it. It seemed to make logical sense considering what happens to the characters and as the viewers, we got a break from watching the modern day Jae Min, Ma Ri and Shi Hoo that it was refreshing when we return back to them.
The other thing that I really liked about the drama, which aided (and maybe elicited) the emotional developments of the plot was the soundtrack. Although the drama consists of a few idol singers, they didn’t add their voices to the official OST tracks even if they lend they voices during the filming a few scenes featuring the characters singing. The songs accurately reflect the characters and emotions depicted in the drama but I’m also finding that the tracks are enjoyable on its own.
Hwanhee – 아프다 (New ver.) (It’s Hurts (New ver.))
Orange Marmalade does play things on the safe side when it comes to the characters and the plot. Even if it did feel a little repetitive, the drama taking us through the two time periods was a device I did enjoy as we got see the characters evolve.
It’s not a uniquely written drama but the structure feel familiar and safe. While the drama does deliver on its emotional elements, it’s important to note that overall the emotional depth of the drama only goes as far as the level of a teenager. While I personally did enjoy the drama, I could this being a factor that detracts some viewers away from this drama.