On the surface this seems like your typical high school vampire romance—and make no mistake, it is true to its shoujo nature, but the execution of the plot is utterly flawless. Orange Marmalade plays out like a simple but effective allegory, dealing with the unfair treatment and oppression of vampires, who have now turned to pig blood rather than human blood to try to acclimate and adjust to modern human society. Despite their efforts and a three-hundred year peace treaty, vampires have been forced to hide their true nature lest they face discrimination and harassment by their human neighbors.
What is so exceptional about this series is the characters and how much development they receive. In the beginning, Ma-Ri is jaded and cynical. She is accustomed to her family's constant moving as a result of their nature being discovered, so moving schools is nothing new to her—and having friends is almost a foreign notion given her past experiences. Yet throughout the series she not only makes friends, but comes to trust and rely upon them as well. Soon, rather than doubting the humans and wondering if they can ever live peacefully together, she starts to desperately believe and want that to be the case—contrary to her initial apathetic and apprehensive nature.
Jae-Min and the supporting cast receive their own measure of fleshed out back stories and development through the course of the series. Even the antagonists are given a dose of humanism, wavering from completely incapable of inducing sympathy to relatable characters with legitimate motives for their actions.
Their realism comes through the fact that they all make mistakes and poor decisions that result in severe repercussions. It is their own actions that produce their suffering—and it gives the impression that everyone has some measure of control over their own misery.
The plot itself does a good job of keeping some suspense, introducing new supporting characters, new obstacles, and culminating to an exciting final climax that is satisfactorily resolved by the end. It's simplistic in its premise and the introduction of it, but the way the story moves through each arc is at just the right pacing to let everything sink in before introducing something novel to reel you back in.
The color palette for the art, the shading, the expressions, everything is rich with the appropriate emotion and tone for the characters and the story. Each panel is clean and clear, a unique experience especially for most people reading shoujo as its in webtoon format and flows perfectly.
Despite being conventional with many of its elements, Orange Marmalade manages to pull everything together in a way that most of its peers are unable to. In every category possible it exceeds expectations, and while it may not be a masterpiece, it comes awfully close.