While the rabid Twilight era put me off most vampire stories/movies, fortunately, Orange Marmalade runs in a different vein. What I had expected when I decided to open up episode 1 was a light fluffy romance between human and vampire, much like Hi!School-Love On (angel and human). While I did get my fluffy teenage blossoming romance, there is something about the drama gives it a dark twinge as it features vampires who are treated like second class citizens.
The story itself tells of a high school boy, Jung Jae Min, who is popular at school and musically gifted with the guitar. However, he seems to have a hatred against vampires, propagated by the fact that his mother married one. I am not sure what happened to his biological father, but perhaps that had something to do with his uneasiness with vampires? He had even quit his guitar playing due to past traumas. He refuses to acknowledge his mother or his new father who is also a teacher at his school.
One day, Jae Min unwittingly falls in love with a girl that he runs into on the subway to school. Ma Ri is a vampire girl, who grew up being ostracized and called a monster by her follow peers. She just transferred to Jae Min’s school in hopes to be not discovered again. Her family is a cute vampy family who by all means act and live like normal humans albeit with sun protection vaccinations and meals made of animal blood disguised as tomato juice.
For Ma Ri, somehow Jae Min’s blood or just human blood smells especially sweet to her. She even nuzzles and kisses his neck in her trance by accident because she smelled his blood. Slowly, Jae Min gets a crush on Ma Ri and vows to find out more about her. He finds out that she is an excellent musician and has a beautiful voice. He decides to joint he school band if she is vocalist. However, Ma Ri is not really about getting to know Jae Min and just wants to get by school without being discovered. Jae Min is not about to let Ma Ri slip through his hands. Meanwhile, Ma Ri’s childhood vampire friend transfers into the same school and he obviously has some feelings for her as he flirts with her relentlessly. Of course Jae Min is jealous at how close they are and little does he know that the friend, Shi Hoo, is his brother (new husband’s son). Shi Hoo does not care much about integration and wants equal rights for vampires, even thinking that he is the superior race because of his abilities. Society is torn about the integration and fear as well as ostracize vampires whenever they can.
So I am not sure in what direction this drama is heading. At one point, I was getting a whiff of Monstar, that musical-like drama with Junghyung of BEAST and vocalist Ha Yeon-Soo. On the other hand, crazy-eyed Shi Hoo who doesn’t really care about humans and has a grudge wants to pull the drama towards a darker direction. I guess this depends on Jae Min’s decision as he learns more about vampires and that band of his.
For me, what drew me to this drama initially is Yeo Jin Gu. A child actor, gosh making me feel really old, who has several dramas under his belt and far more mature in his acting than people twice his age. As I have noticed from his previous works, he definitely does the angsty and hidden trauma angle very well. For Jonghyun who plays Shi Hoo, he is that delightful rebel charmer that every girl falls for. His physical features really fit this vampire role as he has delicate features, but belies a hidden strength. His acting of a crazy vampire in the beginning really surprised me and I look forward to this darker side of his personality. Either way, this webtoon turned drama has captured my attention for now!