Friday, July 24, 2015

Orange Marmalade Ep 12 Finale - Music Conquers All

Here we are at the finale people!  And while we don't get any huge plot surprises, we do get a sincere conclusion on the characters' story.  Which, considering how often kdramas can fall flat on the last episode, is all we can really ask for. 
Everything is all flowers and sausages for our OTP as they bask in the light of their shared love.  Jae Min remembers some things, including his past life, and Ma Ri goes along for the ride.  To be honest, as much as I am happy they found each other, I still have a slight complaint of a lack of sizzle.  The drama went from naughty chemistry to straight up Disney Channel teen love.  I kind of miss the neck nuzzling when I instead get happy glances.
Poor Shi Hoo has been outed by stupid hair brush girl.  She is my new official annoyance in this drama, as the girl purposefully tells everyone Shi Hoo's secret and berates Jo Ara for not outing him herself.  Shi Hoo figures that his secret is open knowledge, when the whole class is sitting away from his seat.  Jo Ara doesn't say anything in his defense, but does show a concerned look.
Ara does show her support later, as she shows up at Shi Hoo's work as his "girlfriend".... SQUEEE So cute!  She tells him that she was not the one who outed him, and wanted to clear up any misunderstandings.  Also be sure to come to school since he will get disciplinary action if he misses too many days of school.  I love these two as a couple.  They just match well.
Sadly, things continue to go south for our vamp/human student relationships.  Shi Hoo is pretty much run out (at least we get to look at him all hot and in regular clothes as he works his side job) and Ma Ri continues to be harassed.  But with Jae Min by her side, a tiny bit of harassment is nothing.
Even all the parents begin a petition to get the vampires away from their precious progeny.  But in defiance to the anti-vamp sentiment, the four human members of the "Orange Marmalade" band stand up for their classmates and convince the angry parents to create a special class for the 6 students, so they can prove that there is nothing to be worried about.  Go TEAM VAMP LOVE!
But it is not just in school that Jae Min decides to tackle anti vamp feelings.  He realizes that if "Orange Marmalade" comes out big, they can change peoples misconceptions on a larger level.  He contacts the record producer who had previously scouted them, and asks to be put into a TV competition "Top Star 10".
Orange Marmalade quickly move up the ranks to become one of the top 10 bands in competition.  But stupid hair brush mean girl finds out about their opportunity and outs the vampires again (before they could preform and come clean themselves).  Before they go on stage, there is a huge commotion as people find blood and knives stuck into the dressing tables in an anti-vampire protest of the band.
Kept from playing their music on TV, the band is not deterred.  They instead begin performing live on the street corner (OK, in front of a fountain, but you get the idea).  To begin with, they play for family and a few passersby.  Their notoriety and public exposure increase as the radio executive takes a chance and does a small album for the band to be promoted online.  While the initial comments were mostly anti-vamp and negative, eventually positive reviews of their music also became more common.  
Where they once had played for only a few people on the street corner, more and more people begin to watch their weekly performances.  They still deal with negative people, but one person at a time, they were changing the way people felt.
Before I end my recap, and go into my thoughts on the series, I want to touch on two great Shi Hoo moments.  The first being his sudden popularity with the fangirl population.  It was so cute when the girls came squealing into his part-time job begging Shi Hoo to pick out their hair clips.  Seeing this, Ara was not amused --"Ugh too much competition.  Looks like I am going to have to work here too."
The 2nd was the reunion between Shi Hoo and his parents.  I totally teared up and that was the one scene in the episode that really got me emotionally invested.  While everything else was expected and cookie cutter, the sincere feelings of Shi Hoo continued to keep me involved til the end.
We conclude this drama with our sweet OTP having a picnic, and Ma Ri feeding Jae Min a piece of bread with Orange Marmalade.  Awww.....not at all subtle are you, writers?  They remain happy despite the trials they will have to go through because they are together.

My Thoughts:
Let's just get this out of the way first thing.  If you have not already started this drama and are thinking of reading the webtoon first..........DON'T DO IT.  If you disregard my suggestion, then this will be you (see picture below).
If you are one of the smart people that didn't want to compare the drama with the webtoon, and watched the drama first.  Then now go check it out.  It is really, really good.  The very beginning is even somewhat similar.  The problem comes when they pretty much say "the hell with it" and ditch the original muse to the side and travel to the past.
I like both for different reasons.  In the webtoon we get some great humor and a small look into a group of people dealing with identity and racial issues.  It has great side characters and really creates a great romantic OTP.  However, the drama takes those issues, amps them up, and loses all sense of subtlety in their vision of racial problems and society's need to deal with them.
I really enjoyed the drama as a whole.  It kept true to what it was trying to portray to the viewer, and despite some rocky transitions into historical times, it had a strong narrative that remained strong from start to finish.  I have to give the writers props for not ditching their innovative storytelling to pander to a fickle viewing public.  It is rare to see a kdrama try something new and follow it through.  For that reason alone, I would suggest this show to others.
There were still a few negatives (even though I can easily ignore them when looking at the drama as a whole).  For one, the chemistry and sizzle of the OTP was very up and down.  I am not sure if it was a directing decision, or if the filming was just too much for our newbie leading actress.  Whatever it was, the energy between the two lovers went from sizzling hot, to a steady burn during the historical segment, and finally to dull embers at the end.  Our leading lady especially had a one-tone expression the whole time in the last two episodes and I did not really get much from her, whether it was going through school trauma or standing with the man she loves. 
By their last scene I was pretty much done with it all, and even a pretty picnic with a final kiss was not rekindling my interest in their romance.
That said, I still would highly recommend this drama to anyone.  I think that watching it straight through will help alleviate some of the pacing problems I had with watching one episode every week.  And it is a fun story.  But again, I can't stress this enough, DO NOT READ THE WEBTOON FIRST!! You will just be setting yourself up for disappointment and a case of the "what could have been"s.
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