And so, "Orange Marmalade" ends rather anticlimatically. This much was unavoidable. The main problem with the story is that we stopped halfway through to do a mostly unrelated Joseon vampire plot. The tension between Si-hoo and Ah-ra is quite cute, but the effect is badly mollified by the fact that these two never really interacted with each other all that much in either the past or the present. The resolution of that subplot is a pretty classic case of what might have been.
Considering all the problems the narrative upheaval caused "Orange Marmalade" the episode does at least manage not to be terrible. At worst it's just kind of repetitive. Once again there's more bullying in regards to Ma-ri being a vampire, not just at the school but also at the big music competition- oh, that's right. The musical competition was only introduced at the end of the last episode. And that conflict doesn't even get resolved here, there's just this vague notion of how music achieved some mild social acceptance.
While I had plenty of problems with "Sing Again, Hera Gu", the drama knew where its strengths were- any time there was a music competition, gosh darn it, not only the main cast but the supporting cast and also any guest stars that could be rounded up were going to come on and sing a song. In that light it's really kind of frustrating that "Orange Marmalade" only really gave us a few songs even though the drama's very title is in fact the name of a band.
The issues with Jae-min and Ma-ri are handled mostly satisfactorily. It really does just come down to Jae-min finally deciding to not act so grumpy, and Ma-ri to just embrace that she's a vampire. This all ties up a tad too neatly but again, this can't really be helped given what happened with the narrative design. If all we're left with is a picnic in a picturesque meadow, well, that's all we're going to get.
The main disappointment with "Orange Marmalade" is that there are definitely flashes of brilliance- the direction is excellent, and the palette is absolutely wonderful- Choi Seong-beom and Lee Hyeong-min could be working in film. Unfortunately, "Orange Marmalade" is multi-episode drama, not film- this is a format that requires careful build-up, introspection, and appreciation regarding long-term issues. The failure of the drama to properly develop along these lines at best just makes it good- not great.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 12 Final"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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