It would appear that "Orange Marmalade" has decided to take the more sensible route of having one normal-length episode instead of airing two somewhat shorter ones air right after the other. Well, good. The last two episodes only had about one episode worth of plot anyway, and this episode moves along quite zippily. By the end the particulars of the romance are clearly established, as well as countless other important, intriguing plot points.
A big problem with a lot of supernatural genre fiction that tries to draw a parallel with real-life discrimination is that the metaphors get mixed. "Orange Marmalade", by contrast, makes the wise decision of constantly portraying vampires as being legitimately dangerous. Jae-min's well-meaning gesture nearly causes a horrific disaster, and it's scenes like this that explain why Ma-ri is always holding back. Ma-ri knows that she's different in a way that's almost completely irreconcilable.
Adding a further layer of irony is the fact that Ma-ri is able to get the courage to act on her romantic impulses on the advice of Yoon-jae (played by Song Jong-ho). His experience appears to give the implication that Ma-ri's vampiric identity can be reconciled with human life. In reality, Yoon-jae is the source of Jae-min's dramatic angst. So even as "Orange Marmalade" appears to give us hope and optimism in the form of love, it's also reminding us that grudges don't just disappear.
The ambience remains excellent, and is probably my favorite part of "Orange Marmalade" overall. I keep wondering where they're shooting this drama- where could the production team have possibly found that picturesque lighthouse in the middle of nowhere? How are they locating all these wonderful natural colors? And to top it all off, there's an excellent soundtrack that's enjoyable while at the same time sounding like exactly the kind of music that would appeal to a teenage high school band.
There's a lot to love about "Orange Marmalade". This is a drama about characters who are trying to be friendly and funny in a world that's actually quite serious overall, and yet the situation never feels all that grim. Ma-ri's vampirism is both a supernatural genre point as well as an effective metaphor for growing up, and the kind of fears completely wrapped up in that. Even as the preview hints at serious conflict, I feel like the sense of fear is kept in proper perspective. Even if "Orange Marmalade" is ostensibly a teen vampire romance, at the deeper level, this is just the story of a couple of young people trying to find themselves.
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 3"
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