If I was asked to write this review yesterday it would be a whole lot different in tone and content than what it will be now, but after I finished reading the last chapter I found that my entire view of the story had changed entirely, and most definitely not for the better.
Now this story was never anything grounding breaking plot wise, in fact it’s pretty much standard supernatural shoujo fare involving a normal high school kid, and a vampire high school kid falling madly in love with each other in a world where vampires aren’t universally accepted. It has the usual lovey-dovey romance mixed in the expected teen melodrama, just like most shoujo out there, but this story did manage to keep both to a level where it was mostly a good read, rather than becoming irritating too often.
We have our female lead, the vampire Ma-Ri, who falls hopelessly in love with our oh–so-handsome male lead, Jae-Min. Ma-Ri is a quiet, socially awkward girl as a result of having to move around a lot as and when people discover that she’s a vampire, and Jae-Min is a popular guy who all the girls crush on, it’s just a pity that he has a deep distrust of women, and rejects them all out of hand due to some mommy issues he carries around with him. So it’s just great that Ma-Ri came into his life, because she softened him up a bit into a guy who was only a little bit of a jackass.
But all does not go swimmingly, Ma-Ri has to hide the fact that she’s a vampire from him so that she doesn’t get dumped. I know, I know, “But that’s so mean, who would dump someone they genuinely and utterly love for such a petty reason?” I hear you ask. Well, if the one doing the dumping was abandoned by his mother as a child so she could shack up with a sexy young vampire then maybe it begins to make a little bit more sense? So naturally when she gets found out she gets the old heave-ho as if she were nothing more than a piece of arm candy. The way Jae-Min handles the situation is both childish and callous, which means we get a large chunk of chapters where they hate each other, but they really don’t, but deep down they do, although even deeper down they still kinda, maybe, definitely love each other. Probably.
And then at the very end we get – Nah. Not going there quite yet, I have some positive things to cover before I get all pissed off geek on it. So please, bear with me for a little while.
Top of the positive list for me is the way in which the story explored the prejudice that exists in society against vampires. It was believable, interesting and rarely too over the top, and often led to some really touching or intriguing character interactions. What I thought was particularly well done was that it looked at the theme from several angles, from Ma-Ri herself, her family, other vampires, school kids/classmates, the general public and even the odd more political view. It’s just a pity that by the closing chapters in ventured into the realms of the ridiculous with a load of over the top bullying, a trait that is sadly all too common in Korean manhwa. It was also fairly hilariously patched up in the closing chapters, but more on that later.
Character wise, there was a lot to like here as well. Ma-Ri is consistently sweet and kind, and the author did a pretty good job of getting the reader to both like, and feel for her character as she went through her many peaks and troughs. Her band of friends was mostly likeable too, with the fun Soo-Ri livening things up whenever she was around, and the classically tsundere Ah-Ra was always fairly amusing with her reluctance to ever admit her feelings. Ma-Ri’s family was also largely interesting, with a cuter and funny younger brother, and a father who made a pretty heartfelt, albeit a tad melodramatic, please towards the end of the final arc. Then we had Si-Hoo, who I guess was meant to be the Jacob to Jae-Min’s….other one, you know, the dashingly handsome vampire guy? Anyway, I digress, back to Si-Hoo! He was the big love rival, and also the closest thing we had to a constant villain in the series, what with him hating humans, using them for their blood, being both mean and forceful with Ma-Ri and her friends, as well as being a little violent. He had a pretty interesting role to play in the end, which I’ll touch on later. And lastly, his girlfriend/bit on the side/bloodbag named Chae-Rin, who was essentially a girl madly in love, and dependant on Si-Hoo, in spite of his somewhat abusive ways and blatant disregard for her on any emotional level. Nevertheless, she was fairly interesting and a lot more could have been done with her character.
Sadly, the one character I didn’t really like all that much was the male lead, Jae-Min. That’s not exactly uncommon in anime/manga/manhwa, as they tend to be a little boring, poorly written or just plain annoying, but Jae-Min wasn’t exactly poorly written so much as the way his character just grated on me somewhat. His hatred of women (at the start anyway) and vampires led to him doing and saying some pretty dumb things, and hurting Ma-Ri a lot for no real reason other than him not being able to get over some mommy issues and a misplaced hatred of vampires. He does eventually get over these issues, but it takes a long time, and arrives so near the ending of the story that I almost got whiplash from the sudden turnaround.
And now onto the ending of the story, which is where my fun starts, and is the whole reason I’m even writing this review in the first place. So buckle up, because there won’t be much positivity from here on out!
I guess I should start by summing up the ending, the ending that came at us so fast, and so unexpectedly that it couldn’t possibly serve as anything other than a massive disappointment. The last arc followed Ma-Ri and Jae-Min as they broke up after it became public that she was a vampire, and in the midst of this they, and their friends were practicing to perform a song at a school festival. Naturally with Ma-Ri being hated by everyone and in a deep state of self-loathing at being hated by everyone, this almost never happened.
But luckily it did, because the class that despised her because they thought her kind murdered some dude found out that it was actually a human who committed the crime. So naturally they should forget their hatred that burned with the passion of a thousand suns, and become all apologetic and remorseful. The little darlings even sent her a lovely letter telling her to perform at the festival, which is exactly what she did, because that one letter made her feel great and forget that everyone tried to bully her so hard she would get expelled and have to move home again.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Ma-Ri tried to kill herself just four chapters from the end. That’s right, FOUR whole chapters away from the end. The author decided that she was so depressed, hated herself and her surrounding so much that she would take her own life, only to completely open and shut the plot line in a measly four chapters. Now I’m sorry, but that is diabolical writing. There is no way in hell that the main character in the story can go from trying to kill herself one chapter, then being all happy four chapters later as the story reaches its conclusion. There should have been a lot of fallout from her, Jae-Min, her family, her friends and even the bullies who made her feel like nothing. But nope, we get nothing.
Jae-Min has a pretty dire last few chapters too after he suddenly realises his feelings for Ma-Ri, fights against the school for trying to kick her out, and saves her life as she’s trying to kill herself. There wasn’t much in the way of him coming to terms with his feelings in a very believable or detailed way, and we certainly weren’t shown the inevitable hurdles they would face even after getting back together. We just time-skipped to appoint where they’re all happy and eating together. The hell is this? I liked the way the characters interacted and developed with one another, yet we just end it like this without anything else said or done? Madness.
Si-Woo’s contribution to the last few chapters was hilarious though, just not in a good way. He’d been built up as a bit of an unlikable badass, and the author even went so far as to explain that modern vampires are nothing like the vampires of old because they don’t drink human blood, so they lost their superhuman abilities generations ago. Only Si-Hoo has been drinking human blood for a very long time, so he regains some abilities such as super strength and agility, along with a weakness to sunlight. But that is completely ignored for the finale, as he does nothing but waltz into the school and pull Chaerin, who he told was worthless, outside so they could run away together, clearly Ma-Ri rejecting him made him a little upset. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that because I was waiting for him to go through some difficulties due to his new powers, as well as maybe coming into his own as the closest thing to a real villain we had in the story. But nope, he just walks off with some girl so he can feed off her when he likes.
There were a few sub-plots that were conveniently pushed aside, or completely ignored in the last chapter too. Such as Jae-Min’s relationship with his mother and vampire step-father, the repercussions of Ma-Ri being a publically outed vampire and what that means for her family, seeing as they could still be deported! It was also a bit strange how one minute Soo-Ri’s mother was ill in hospital, and almost sounding like she may die, then she’s suddenly at the festival watching her daughter perform. I would have liked a bit more on all three issues, sadly that wasn’t to be.
So there we have it, a whole 118 chapters of development completely thrown out the window in one lousy, unexpectedly final chapter that ruined the entire series and rendered all the time I spent reading this wasted, and all the good work done previously for nothing. And that’s why I’m upset at the ending, I’d still be unhappy if it were just plain bad, but it would be a lot better than getting and ending that comes completely out of nowhere and makes no attempt at all to stay consistant with the rest of the story, or to offer any meaningful closure in any shape or form. So despite havign a lot of strong individual elements, it has to recevie a very low score because of a rushed, and slapdashed final chapter that takes the reader for a fool.
Reading this story is a complete waste of time, and it offers absolutely nothing in the end as a pay-out. I’d urge anyone thinking of reading it to just not bother, go read something else, anything else. Just don’t read this.
Spoiler Free-ish section. Read further for spoilers.
Typical vampire love story, where vampires are seen as monsters and have to hide their identity in society. This archetype was built up rather well and can be distignuished from other vampire stories (yes, like twilight). Overall plot, boy/girl meets girl/boy and drama-filled interactions ensue.
Amazing. Well done and the amount of effort put into the drawings is fantastic. Kudos to the author! Nothing but praise from me!
A mixed bag of emotions from me. Some of the characters offer interesting points of views and interactions with other characters. However, as the series progresses, some characters fail to change or suddenly pull complete 180s and leave you with a sense of whiplash. Male lead is rather annoying and could have come off much more..... just more. The female lead while likeable, took much too long to grow out of her shell and into someone beaming with confidence.
After reading this manga (manhwa?), I am glad to say I have read it. And yet, I still feel a sense of bitterness when I recall it. A bit of good with the bad. On one hand, I feel happy for Baek Ma Ri (female lead) and on the other hand I feel like the end situation turned out in a way that should never have happened.
Jae Min (the male lead)-
He's a dick... just a dick. Not only did he give off a grating feeling throughout the series, he literally told Ma Ri she was a disgusting monster and to essentially fuck off. Then at the end, gets back together with her. I am pretty sure most people don't get back together when something like that happens..idk that's just me.
Baek Ma Ri-
Again, while likeable, I feel like she could have gained more confidence in herself or built herself up more instead of getting beaten down all the time. I could understand feeling a bit of pity for her at the beginning, or rather empathy (nobody wants pity). But after a while I want to start rooting for her, not feeling sorry for her. She was also a bit naive (which is not bad, it is good to be optimistic). But when the entire school literally shits bricks on you (and by bricks I mean packets of blood--ch.115 or so), and then say they are sorry and that it was "kinda mean," you don't forget that. That shit is traumatizing.
an annoying bitch that has some saving qualities (at the end of the manga).
woomi (umi? sorry korean is not my forte)-
the girl with the glasses. I thought she was a solid friend until the end when she showed her true nature. Said she accepted Ma Ri for who she was and then says she is afraid of her when Ma Ri needed her support the most. What a hypocrite.
By far the only decent person to befriend Ma Ri. A true bro til the end.
Siwoo (white hair)-
potential bad ass love rival candidate that turns out to be a heartless prick. While he did have some awesome moments, in the end he is still a prick.
So disappointng. She was a solid friend through and through and then goes ape shit crazy at the end fucking over Ma Ri to the highest level of fuckery. There was no redemption in sight for her and it took Siwoo to go to her, slap her, and essentially take her away implying, "look, I am the only one that could ever accept someone as unforgivable as you so shut up and come with."
People in general-
I know as a society, people flip flop on their beliefs all the time, especially with the media over-hyping things and all. But sweet Jeezus O'laudy the hypocrisy is strong in this manga! First off, the amount of times Ma Ri and Jae Min go back and forth is ridiculous. With all of the cat n mouse shenanigans going on... in real life it's either two people like each other and things work out or they don't. Not this moody swing that goes from "liking" to "apathy" to "liking" to "hating" to "loving" and etc.
On many occasions did people in Ma Ri's school go from having antagonistic views towards vampires, to divided views on whether or not they are really that bad. This happens with the singer who came out as a vampire--> this led to people seeing them in a better light. Then, when Ma Ri is outed as a vampire, the shitstorm that these people throw down on her was worth 150 years in therapy to get over. Then people "realize" that she wasn't so bad as a person and felt regret and apologized...... You think after all the shit they did and said to her, a simple sorry would suffice. When I read this I thought of WWII when someone reported a Jew to the Nazi's, had them detained and tortured, and stopped by a little later to say sorry. No way does a "sorry" relieve these people of the label they deserve--"hideous, monsters who no longer constitute a human being".
Felt rushed. Ma Ri goes from trying to kill herself, to forgiveness of others, to dating Jae Min (for no reason, becuase he is worthless) in a span of 4 chapters. None of the fallout that should have happened from previous chapters was explained to played out. Just a time skip to happyville.
Opinion after only 13 chapters: I know a lot of people love this webtoon, but I just couldn’t get into it at all. Critics say its cliché, but before we even get into that, I think we should discuss the writing. The occasional grammar mistakes as well as the awkward/unconventional choice of words often makes it hard to empathize with the MCs. It also creates some misunderstandings with the characters’ intentions (at least I hope they’re misunderstandings). The cliché moments combined with jaemin’s immaturity, pompousness, and aggressi- Ahem -“tsundere” behaviour made reading it quite unbearable.
First manga/manhua that actually made me cry (no joke[movies included]). Great story (it's quite a rollercoaster).
***This is a somewhat spoiler free review***
What do you get when you have a decent cast that do decent things but then get a rushed ending? Orange Marmalade.
I'll say that the whole vampire hiding in society thing was actually pretty well done. The basic premise of this Manhwa is that we follow the main protagonist as she fights her way through having a somewhat normal high school experience. Too bad she has some really hot guy all over her and has many friends that care for her. But noooooo she doesn't want any of that; well not at first. One thing I really liked about how the plot moved was that the main character did start to mature and open up to the rest of the cast. There was a very clear development of her character that had many milestones hit. Unfortunately what dragged it down was the other main character Jae-Min who in my honest opinion ruined the whole story. He is your typical single minded male lead that just loves to fuck everything up.
The worst offence however is the rushed ending. It was tied up so god damn fast that I was flabbergasted at the closer we received for some characters. You have a complete breakdown of one of the supporting casts...and she ends up with the man that was just using her for her blood...? Blaaa one of the worst endings I have ever seen and it unfortunately drags down the entire Manhwa.
Most Manhwa's are done with photoshop and lack really detailed colors. The Manhwa Tower of God was the same way for awhile but it soon developed its own sense of style that made it look unique. It would be a stretch to say that Orange Marmalade has its own style but some of the scenes do look pretty good. I did like most of the character models and background shots.
This really made me grind my teeth because while most of the characters had their great moments, it was all ruined by the ending. Jae-Min just came off as a horrible horrible lead. Some of the supporting cast were pretty interesting but when they needed to stick up for Ma-Ri when she really needed it, most of them dropped the ball. To make things worse the ONE character that I felt actually cared about Ma-Ri throughout the entire story f$#ks up big time in the end.
A HUGE letdown.
I won't go as far as reviewer Bradalee and say this is a complete waste of time due to the ending but I will say to prepare to lose all respect for the characters that you have grown attached to. The rushed ending leaves a lot to be desired but the moments before the climax were pretty enjoyable to watch.
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