Review: Rainless Love in a Godless Land [Taiwan]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

I do think that Rainless is a pretty special snowflake of a show, in that I don’t think I’ve come across a similar drama, among the hundreds of dramas I’ve checked out, in the last 15 years.

Show manages to weave its story, while providing a good amount of educational insight into Taiwanese indigenous culture, and it also manages to make statements about environmental issues without being preachy. That’s pretty impressive.

I think it’s helpful to mention that you either really love this one, or you don’t. And you’ll figure out which camp you fall into, reasonably quickly.

Even though I appreciated Show’s strengths, I have to confess that this one never stole my heart. Still, I would say that this turned out to be a worthwhile watch.

THE LONG VERDICT:

The entire reason this show was on my radar, is that this comes from the same team that gave us Someday Or One Day (review is here, and Open Threads are listed here), a show which I loved so much, that I christened it my drama of the year, in my 2020 year-in-review.

A follow-up project from the good folks who blew my mind AND stole my heart with Someday Or One Day? Yes please, sign me up!

The thing is, though, like I mentioned earlier, this one just didn’t manage to steal my heart, even though I appreciate its strengths.

I realize all over again, that some shows just click with you, while others just.. don’t, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. 🤷🏻‍♀️ (Sorry to all of you who love this one! 😅)

I’ll still do my best to highlight what I think Show does well, as well as share my own responses to Show, with particular spotlights on the last 3 episodes, since those are arguably Show’s most pivotal.

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

The OST in this show is very good, and turned out to be one of the highlights of my watch.

It definitely feels like the songs were written for this story, rather than, say, adapted or picked from elsewhere. Because of this, the music really works to amplify the watch experience, and certain scenes were especially lifted, because the lyrics and the music were such a great fit.

In terms of a personal favorite, I do find that I have a soft spot for the second track in this playlist, Last Second. I really like the groove of it, plus the lyrics are quite poignant as well.

Here’s a playlist of the OST tracks, I hope you enjoy.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. Show leans heavy into mysticism.

What I mean is, the mysticism in our story world isn’t just a convenient backdrop for a larger story. The mysticism is a critical part of the story itself, so I would say that you need to be prepared to learn it and engage in it, in order to appreciate the story properly.

This is true all the way through to the end, so if mysticism isn’t your thing, this.. may not be the best show for you.

2. Sometimes the Amis language is spoken, particularly in episode openings.

I hadn’t realized this, and was suitably confused, when I clicked on episode 1, and heard a different language being spoken than Mandarin.

I thought that I’d somehow messed up the episode settings and was listening to some kind of dub, and ended up triple-checking my episode, in every way I knew how. 😅

That’s why I’m telling you this in advance, so that you know to expect it.

3. It can take a while to come together.

What I mean is, Show serves up a lot of stuff, and it can feel confusing, particularly if the Amis culture and belief system is new to you. I feel that giving yourself a bit of time, helps.

I personally found that all the various terms started coming to me much more easily, the deeper I got into my watch.

4. The romance in this is very low-key.

I feel it’s important to mention that there is a romance in this, but it’s so low-key, that even though it technically forms the backbone of our story, I often felt like it was a very small secondary arc.

I think knowing to expect that, helps.

STUFF I LIKED

The insight into the Amis culture

Show is reportedly pretty accurate in its portrayal of Taiwanese indigenous culture.

The mysticism that Show delves into, comes from the Amis people, including the concept of Kakarayan as a creator god, and Kawas as spirits who bless.

This was all completely new to me, as I’d had no prior exposure to the Taiwanese indigenous culture, and I found it interesting to learn about Amis culture and beliefs, during my watch.

Show helpfully opens each episode with a mythology snippet, to teach us more about Amis beliefs.

I found the mythology snippets interesting in and of themselves, but also, for the way they added layers of context to our central story.

Show’s manner of touching on environmental issues

Show does a nice job of touching on environmental issues, and the consequences of the neglect of our environment, without getting preachy about it, by weaving the degradation of the earth, into our narrative.

[MINOR FOUNDATIONAL SPOILER]

For example, our story set-up informs us that Kakarayan, the creator god, has decided to evacuate all the Kawas (spirits who bless) from the earth, because humans have treated the earth so carelessly.

Because humans have treated the earth so carelessly, he intends to withdraw his blessings from mankind.

[END SPOILER]

I thought that was a pretty organic yet nifty way to provoke thought around how mankind is bringing suffering upon itself, by slowly destroying the earth on which we live.

Our narrative as a puzzle

Our story is basically present to us as a puzzle.

As viewers, it’s for us to piece together the various fragments of information and mythology that Show serves up each episode.

And for our characters, it’s for them to piece together the fragments – of information, and memories – to figure out what the truth really is.

I found myself nicely engaged by this puzzle through most of my watch.

It was only in the penultimate stretch, where I found my interest flagging, because I personally felt perplexed by certain pieces of information that Show serves up.

It’s hard to explain without getting spoilery, so instead of attempting to say more here, I’ve got episode spotlights on the last few episodes, later in this review. Those will give you a better flavor for my specific struggles with our story.

Appearances by alumni from Someday Or One Day

Because this show comes to us from the makers of Someday Or One Day, part of the fun for me during my watch, was to pick out familiar faces from the Someday Or One Day alumni.

I immediately took to Alice Ke in this, as Toem our cloud god; she’s so sassy and devil-may-care, as she does her own thing, and goes her own way, never mind what the other gods say. It’s also kind of trippy to see Yan Yu Lin as our wisdom god, after seeing him play Creepy Psychiatrist in Someday Or One Day.

And then there’s Zheng You Fei, who had played little Yuxuan, who plays little Tiendi here.

It’s all pretty fun and rather trippy; it made me feel like my drama worlds were colliding. Yes, I am rather easily amused, sometimes. 😁

On that note, at the start of my watch, I was told that Greg Hsu has a small role in this, and that it’s best not to look up cast lists to find out what that role is. I’m passing on that bit of wisdom to you all, so, fair warning, you guys. 😉

STUFF THAT WAS OK: CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS

I hate to say it, but the truth is, none of the characters and relationships managed to steal my heart. (Sorry to those of you who love these characters! 😅)

I was interested in them, more in principle than anything else, because the primary thing that kept my interest, during my watch, was the narrative puzzle that Show was playing with.

Here’s just a few quick-ish thoughts on the main players in our story.

Joanne Tseng as Tiendi

Generally speaking, I’ll say that I liked the concept of Tiendi as a character, more than I did the execution.

[MINOR FOUNDATIONAL SPOILERS]

For example, I thought it was playfully ironic, that Tiendi is being positioned as a flaky, superstitious sort of person, by the people around her, who treat her stories of the supernatural with lots of skepticism, when in fact, she really is the one interacting with the gods.

On a side note, I find it kind of cute that Tiendi’s name, Hsieh Tiendi, literally means “thank the heavens and the earth.”

[END SPOILERS]

However, I have to confess that I personally feel like Joanne Tseng was a bit miscast, in this.

What I mean is, to my eyes, Joanne Tseng has a “cool sophisticate” vibe about her, and her features play a large part in that, whereas I think Tiendi was more of a “warm and innocent” sort of character.

Therefore, even though I could see that Joanne Tseng was giving her all to the role, there was always a bit of a disconnect for me, when watching her as Tiendi.

Despite my struggle with the casting, I appreciate the idea that Tiendi is a very sincere, heartfelt sort of character, and one arc that I think brings that out very well, in this one, in episode 6.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I did find the arc of Tiendi choosing the Sikawasay way, quite poignant.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, isn’t it? Gran (Samantha Ko) is upset that Tiendi would choose to help Ai Ting (Pipi Yao), because this event would set Tiendi’s entire life off in an inevitable pattern of helping others.

But Tiendi’s counterpoint, that she would still be forever changed and affected, if she chooses not to help Ai Ting, is very true too.

That really brings out the essence of her predicament, to me. She will suffer regrets, whichever choice she makes in the end. It’s just a question of which choice she feels able to live with, going forward.

I really appreciated Tiendi’s heartfelt sincerity, as she navigates this conundrum.

[END SPOILER]

Fu Meng Bo as Orad

This was my introduction to Fu Meng Bo, and I found him pretty solid as Orad, even though he never stole my heart.

I remember CarpControl mentioned that Orad had her pretty smitten, to which I can only say, to each her own? And.. the heart wants what it wants? 😅

I have to admit that while I appreciated Orad’s qualities as a character, I never actually felt his appeal viscerally, from my fangirl heart. 😝

I think part of the reason for that, is the fact that I focused more on the narrative puzzle, during my watch; that meant that characters were bumped into second place in my brain, in a manner of speaking.

Another part of the reason, I think, is that Fu Meng Bo plays Orad in a very.. restrained manner.

Meaning, I mostly found Orad pretty stoic, and I feel like his generally subdued display of emotions made it hard for me to really connect with what he was feeling, a lot of the time.

And somehow, his wistful yearning gazes just.. didn’t really work for me. I don’t know why.

I was, however, interested in Orad’s role as Kakarayan’s messenger, and what that meant to him, as he became more cognizant of his own thoughts and feelings.

Tiendi and Orad together

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, there is a loveline in this story, and that loveline is between Orad and Tiendi.

Also like I mentioned earlier, this loveline is given a very subdued treatment, such that you might sometimes wonder if it’s even there, of if you’re just imagining things, heh.

This subdued treatment didn’t really help in getting me to root for this would-be couple to succeed in their love.

The other thing that niggled at me, and made this loveline land a bit weirdly for me, is the set-up.

[FOUNDATIONAL SPOILER ALERT]

The thing is, Orad is thousands of years old, and meets Tiendi when she’s 7 years old.

We learn that he knows, even at this point, that he will fall in love with her, and she with him. That’s.. kinda weird, for me.

I mostly don’t have an issue with age-gap lovelines, but the idea that he knew, when she was only 7 years old, that he would love her romantically, and she would also love him back, weirds me out.

[END SPOILER]

On the upside, there are times when we see Orad leaking smiles around Tiendi, and I did find those quite precious. Leaked smiles are my kryptonite, after all.

That said, there is a specific scene that got to me more than the others, and that is the epilogue that Show serves up, in episode 7.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E7. The epilogue that we get this episode, is so poignant.

It’s sad enough, that Tiendi doesn’t remember Orad anymore, but the fact that she still feels the sadness and cries, despite not remembering, makes my heart pinch for her. How heartachey, that the memories are gone, but the emotions remain.

And that shot of Orad watching Tiendi so plaintively, helpless to do anything to make her feel better, and with so much sadness clouding his own eyes, is just as heartachey. 💔

With this context, I felt a flash of wanting to ship Orad and Tiendi more actively, so well done to Show, for that.

[END SPOILER]

Joe Cheng as Fali

Without getting into spoilers, I’d just like to say that Joe Cheng delivers Fali with a studied stoicism that I found quite interesting.

Much of the time, I couldn’t tell if Fali was friend or foe, which made the watch experience more interesting. I think that’s due in part to the writing, and in part, to Joe Cheng’s delivery.

I do think that the writing around Fali makes him one of the more complex and interesting characters in our story world.

Alice Ke as Toem

I have to admit that I found Alice Ke very charismatic as Toem. The interesting hair and fashion, along with that attitude and sass, made her way more interesting to my eyes, than Tiendi herself, unfortunately. 😅

Similar to Fali, I often didn’t know what to think of Toem. Sometimes, she appears to be helpful, and sometimes, she appears to be more malevolent.

Also similar to Fali, I found Toem to be one of the more interesting characters in our story world.

The more we found out about her, the more curious I was, to understand her better.

Yan Yu Lin as Li Pu Hui

Y’know, after seeing Yan Yu Lin as Creepy Psychiatrist in Someday Or One Day, I never thought I’d see the day, when I’d perk up to see him on my screen, and yet, here we are.

I found that I really enjoyed him as Pu Hui, our wisdom god.

Pu Hui brings a sense of lightness and irreverence to our story, which I found myself enjoying very well.

[MINOR SPOILER]

For example, the backstory of why he’s still on earth, even though all the Kawas have left, is so shallow. I mean, he’s basically disobeying Kakarayan, simply because he doesn’t want to face his wife’s nagging on a daily basis.

Pfft. It’s ridiculous, but it’s also so him. I was very amused by this.

[END SPOILER]

Samantha Ko as Banai / Gran

I have to say, I ended up enjoying Gran as a character, quite a lot more than I’d expected to.

Samantha Ko infuses Gran with a sense of grace and elegance, even though Gran is a poor, weathered, freckled Sikawasay, who lives in the countryside. I found that gracefulness about her, very appealing.

Gran has some very difficult scenes over the course of our story, and I wanted to say that I think Samantha Ko does a beautiful job of delivering those scenes.

She gives the delivery of each scene the needed emotional depth and heft, while still managing to project that sense of grace – and also, still managing to look like she’s just an unassuming Sikawasay. Very nicely done, I say.

Here’s a quick highlight of a Gran scene from episode 3, that stands out in my memory.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3. It is poignant to see Gran bid her Kawas, Cariwciw (Vera Yan), goodbye, during the evacuation.

Cariwciw says that Gran should be happy to see her leave, since she believes that Gran has hated her for choosing her to be a Sikawasay.

The truth is, though, I don’t see hatred in Gran’s eyes.

It’s true that because she was a Sikawasay, Gran had very little personal agency and freedom. However, it’s also true that Cariwciw saved her from death, and had protected her all these years.

If you had to choose between living a life of dedication and service, or dying young of an illness, which would you choose, y’know?

There’s a good amount of pathos here, because Gran’s regrets and heartache can’t be ignored and dismissed, but at the same time, that symbiotic relationship she’s had with Cariwciw, is real and familial.

In spite of everything that Gran’s felt, there’s a distinct note of wistfulness about her, as she bids Cariwciw goodbye.

[END SPOILER]

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Some of the writing, handling and execution

Here’s a quick list of the things that didn’t work so well for me, to varying degrees, over the course of my watch.

1. The campy office stuff

This was not my favorite thing, but I have to confess, I didn’t mind it so much, in the grand scheme of things.

In fact, in the beginning, when I’d felt rather lost with all the mythology stuff, the familiarity of the campy office stuff – which feels like it’s present in just about every Taiwanese drama I’ve ever seen – helped to ground me.

It’s just in this list because I generally felt like the campiness of the office stuff didn’t match very well with Show’s main vibe, which I felt leaned more momentous, with all the supernatural stuff to do with gods and all.

2. Some of the humor

Again, this is not a huge deal, but just for the record, the humor in this show was mostly hit or miss, for me.

[MINOR SPOILER]

For example, in episode 4, I didn’t much care for the scene where Tiendi and her boss (Sara Yu) talk at cross purposes, where Tiendi thinks that Boss Lady knows exactly what she’s going through, while Boss Lady’s only talking about giving her a raise because Tiendi’s bought a house.

I think that was meant for funny, but I did not find it funny. 🤷🏻‍♀️

[END SPOILER]

3. Some narrative choices

I didn’t prefer some of Show’s narrative choices, and the biggest one that didn’t work for me, is the big reveal, which happens in episode 12.

I elaborate on this, in my spotlight on episode 12, later in this review.

4. Some of the execution

When I mention this, I’m mostly talking about episode 12 as well, because I found Show unnecessarily confusing during this episode, and I feel that a lot of it has to do with the execution.

Again, I elaborate on this, in my spotlight on episode 12, later in this review.

THEMES / IDEAS [SPOILERS]

Show is actually pretty rich with ideas, for those who wish to engage in them.

Here are just a small handful that stand out to me, from my watch:

E4. The idea of a blessings which are given, versus opportunities which you grasp for yourself.

Toem sells the idea of grabbing an opportunity to the Raka (Zhong Xin Ling), the Kawas whom she’s hidden, saying that an opportunity returns as much as she puts in, and is better than a blessing without cost, that can be taken away at any moment.

Hrm. That’s interesting.

Show is actually presenting the idea of personal agency from two different angles.

With Orad, he’s depended so much on the Reflection of Time for direction, that the idea of making small daily decisions is completely alien to him, and almost paralyzes him.

With Toem, she sells the idea of personal agency to Raka, and it all sounds deceptively good, but Toem, as we’ve been told, is an evil spirit. And, the path that she lures Raka on, is a path of evil.

I guess that leads to:

The idea that there are two sides to every coin; that personal agency in and of itself may not be a good thing, because it can be used for evil.

E6. The idea of truth vs. lies.

There are so many characters – both human and Kawas, with something to hide, in this episode, and as a viewer, I feel like my main task is to figure out what the truth really is.

E6. The idea of not giving up, even when the odds are against you.

Show raises a thought-provoking theme through Tiendi this episode, where she tells Orad about her decision not to give up on everything, even though she was allegedly destined to die.

That’s a message to all of us, isn’t it, to not give up, even when the world looks dark and bleak.

And then, there’s also the idea that she hopes to change Kakarayan’s mind, to change not only her fate, but the fate of the world, is quite intriguing to me. This attitude, of not giving up, even when the odds look stacked against you, is quite inspiring.

SPOTLIGHT ON EPISODE 11 [SPOILERS]

Ok, well. This turned out to be a completely world-tilting episode.

I now feel like I – and almost all our characters – don’t know what’s real, and what’s fake, and which way is up, anymore. 😅

Again, just like last episode, our opening mythology snippet underscores the entire episode.

After the snippet tells us the story of the man whose life was destroyed because the Reflection of Time that he’d been looking at, had been a lie made up by a Kariah, Show spends the episode unraveling to us the fact that just about everything that we’ve believed to be true, up to this point, has been a lie too.

Say, what? Gah. I need a minute. 🤯

How absolutely backwards, is the fact that the Cause and Effect Correction Bureau, is absolutely not correcting causes and effects after events happen, but actually putting things in place, so that events happen the way Fali has planned them.

ALSO. It all makes sense now, that Fali is actually Lemed, god of dreams.

It’s because he’s god of dreams, that he’s been able to weave this intricate, multi-layered, multi-pronged lie, and keep it going for so many years.

And it’s because it’s his dream, that he can create a whole new identity for himself – Fali, director of the Cause and Effect Correction Bureau, so that he has a reason to control all these Kawas.

But hold up one dang minute, because, are these Kawas even real? Are all the supposed Kawas in our story, just figments of Lemed’s fertile imagination?

Because I’m stunned to learn that Pu Hui isn’t real, and has never been real. There was never a time when Orad had given him a name and purpose; he’s just another creation of Lemed’s whims.

First of all, it’s really quite gutting to see Pu Hui disappear like that, as he crumples with the realization that he’s not real.

Second of all, WHAT. That is so unsettling, really. Because this makes me feel like ANYTHING in this drama world could be turned on its head, and revealed to be a lie. What am I supposed to believe anymore? I have no idea.

I’m intrigued at the concept, however, that Pu Hui’s ability to continue to exist, is his belief that he is real. The moment he starts to realize that he’s not real, is the moment that he starts to fade out.

What is that supposed to imply, in our drama world? That because we believe, therefore we exist..?

And if that’s true, then what does that make of the thing where Orad is supposedly a lie that Kakarayan created?

Does it mean that the moment Orad comes to realize that he’s a lie that was created by Kakarayan, that he’ll disappear too?

Far. Out. I cannot imagine what will become of our story, with our main characters discovering that they were never real, and disappearing into thin air, one by one. 😳

Also, how bizarre, that Lemed had planned for Orad and Tiendi to fall for each other, all along. Why would he plan that, I wonder? Just to create a situation where Orad would be deeply dissatisfied with Kakarayan?

But why would that even be useful or necessary, if Orad is.. a lie..?

Unless.. the target was never Orad, but Tiendi..? Because she’s the Glowing Girl, who’s received a blessing from Kakarayan..? 🤔

Plus, her efforts to communicate with Kakarayan and Toem in the present, are still effective, versus Orad, who’s stopped being able to see the Reflection of Time..

And so.. all of Toem’s efforts to tear Orad and Tiendi apart, have been in service of throwing a spanner in Lemed’s plans..? That would make sense, except for the part where Toem has seemed bent on killing off Tiendi.. 😬

Y’know, in a twisted, slightly bizarre sort of way, this gives me echoes of 1998 film The Truman Show, where Truman slowly but surely came to the realization that the entire world he existed in, was manufactured and fake.

In that movie, the end-game, had been for Truman to walk out of his fake world, into the real one.

What’s the end-game in this drama world, I wonder? Is there even a way for Orad to walk out of this fake world, when he himself is fake..?

And what’s Tiendi’s role, in all of this? She has received the ability to heal.. but does that also include the ability to make a fake rain god into a real boy? I’m confused, perplexed, and curious to see what Show has in mind, to solve this conundrum it’s created.

In the meantime, looks like our shapeshifting Papa Orip is still out there, coz it’s just taken over Grieving Nurse.

I guess we should buckle up, coz it looks like we might be in for more twists and turns? 😅

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]

Well. This was certainly an episode of twists, turns and all-around reveals.

We learn a great deal, this episode, and to be brutally honest, I’m.. not sure how I feel about it all.

I also have to admit to feeling rather confused, during some stretches of this episode, in particular in the first half. There are so many flashbacks and flashforwards, that I sometimes had no idea where or when we were, and in relation to when, either. 😅

Considering that I’ve been paying reasonably close attention while watching – I’d like to say, more attention than the average drama viewer tends to give – I do think that Show should bear some of the responsibility, for my feeling lost.

Meaning, I do think that it’s Show’s responsibility to present itself in a way that is accessible to the average viewer.

And, if I, as a more attentive-than-average viewer, found myself floundering to get my bearings on so many occasions this episode, I do think that means that Show could have done a better job of presenting itself.

Certainly, it’s possible that Show actively aims to make us flounder, in which case I’d say that it’s succeeded very well, but in which case I’d also say that I’m not impressed by that decision.

Because, in my view, a drama’s job is to take the viewer along on the journey, not alienate the viewer, who tries to go along on the journey.

That aside, I think it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room, this episode, which is the reveal, that Orad IS Kakarayan.

That, and this entire world in which he, Tiendi, Fali, Toem and everyone else exists, is but a dream that Lemed, god of dreams, has been tasked to create and sustain – all because Kakarayan can’t forget Tiyamacan, the woman whom he’d loved in a dream.

Uh. Say, what?

I honestly don’t know how to feel about that. It’s clever, sure, and also, I didn’t see it coming, so it’s unpredictable and therefore fresh, in a sense. But.. I’m not sure I like where we’re going with this.

I appreciate that the idea that Show is serving up, is that love is such a powerful force, that even Kakarayan, the omnipotent creator god, cannot help but succumb to it – to the extent that he cannot function in his real world and would rather dream an endless dream, in order to taste it again.

The thing is, I find it hard to reconcile myself to the idea that an omnipotent god would be at the mercy of love, and would be so.. conquered, by love. I feel like he’s supposed to be bigger and more powerful than this, somehow.

Also, this makes me wonder how Lemed and Tiendi had encounters with Kakarayan, if Kakarayan were actually buried somewhere in Orad’s consciousness?

When I try on the idea that Kakarayan is omnipotent and therefore is fully capable of being in more than one place at a time, and that’s how Lemed and Tiendi could meet him, it kinda works?

However, it brings me back to the conundrum: if Kakarayan is so powerful, then why is he at the mercy of love?

I think that’s the thing that troubles me most, out of this whole thing: that Kakarayan isn’t choosing to submit himself to love. If he were omnipotent but chose to submit himself to things like love, &/or death, that’s one thing.

However, the vibe I’m getting from this episode, is that Kakarayan had been so consumed by the memories of loving Tiyamacan, that he couldn’t stand it, and that’s why he got Lemed to create this elaborate dreamscape for him, so that he would have the chance to love “Tiyamacan” again.

That just doesn’t vibe very omnipotent to me, honestly.

ALSO. If all this is true – which I’m assuming it is, since the various Kawas disappear, and Orad disappears too – then it means that if we are going to have a “happy ending” where Orad and Tiendi are reunited and allowed to continue living in this world, it would entail the propagation of a lie.

That feels weird to me.

I guess I struggle with the idea that a happy ending, where Orad doesn’t disappear, and isn’t separated from Tiendi, requires them to embrace a lie, and live in it.

Truth > Lie, for me, basically.

And, surely Tiendi isn’t quite powerful enough, to turn the dreamscape into reality, ie, make the lie into truth?

I’m very perplexed, as you can probably tell.

I realize that when push comes to shove, I’m more interested in the truth, than in the lie.

If I had a choice, I’d want to know more about Kakarayan’s real world, and what it means for him to learn to live in it, than what it’s going to take, for Tiendi to preserve the dreamscape, and Orad in it.

I don’t know if that’s just me, but that’s really where I have more interest right now, as we head into the finale.

Of course, given the fantasy nature of our story, Show could go any which way, and still find a way to make it make sense within its mythology – or at least, that’s the hope.

I’m curious – albeit not super hopeful that I’ll get what I want – as we see where Show takes us next.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILER ALERT]

It’s taken me 13 whole episodes to come to the conclusion that this show and I, are just not a natural fit.

What I mean is, I know there are people who really, really love this show, and thoroughly enjoy the storytelling, and the mythology, and the twists and turns that Show serves up, particularly in the last stretch.

I conclude that I’m just not one of those people.

To be brutally honest, this ending was just.. alright, for me.

I think I get what Show’s doing, and I think I get what the ending implies, and I find it moderately interesting (versus brain-meltingly interesting).

On further thought, I believe the reason I only find this show and this ending moderately interesting, is because this story and these characters never fully captured my heart.

I’m not 100% sure why that is; it could be something to do with the writing, execution &/or delivery (most likely a combination of all three); this one just never quite grabbed me the way it grabbed so many other drama fans out there.

This, even though I technically kinda-sorta got what I wanted, out of the ending, which is that Kakarayan would learn to live in his world, without needing Orad to be his lie.

We don’t quite see Kakarayan live in his world, but we do see him dream a new dream, with Lemed’s assistance, and we see him actively out and about, in this new world, doing his Kakarayan thing.

And, we also have an important tweak, where Kakarayan reframes the statement about Orad being a lie, to Orad being a wish that he desires to come true.

I did think that that was an interesting reframing, because both a lie and a wish are not fact, when stated. But where a lie typically can’t come true, a wish can, and with this reframing, and with Orad’s agreement and understanding, Kakarayan makes his wish, Orad, come true.

It’s through this reframing, that Kakarayan dreams a new dream, and makes a new world, with Lemed’s help, and thus allows Orad to make his wish come true, of loving Tiendi, and protecting her, and choosing her.

All our other key characters and Kawas are given new realities in this new world, which I think many viewers would find comforting.

I feel like I should be happier to see Pu Hui, since I’d been so sad to lose him when he’d disappeared, but.. I somehow am just not feeling it, unfortunately.

I am curious to know whether, in this new world, there’s a risk of anyone disappearing, if they reconnect with their memories of their past selves, in the previous world?

For example, we see that when Tiendi is drunk, all her old memories come flooding to the surface.

I get that this is likely to show us that this really is Tiendi (versus a clone of her, who hasn’t been through everything that Tiendi’s been through), but it does make me wonder what would happen, if Tiendi were to become able to tap into those memories, when she’s sober.

By extension, I infer that all these other people and Kawas whom we see out and about in the new world, are the same souls (for lack of a better word) from the previous world.

If it’s possible for Tiendi to tap into her old memories, it makes me wonder if it shouldn’t also be possible for these other people (and Kawas?) to do the same, on some level.

Also, while it’s cheeky of Show, to have Orad still retain his powers in his new identity as Li Ying Chen, it does niggle at me, a little bit, that he’s technically lying to Tiendi, in order to be the love of her life.

That feels.. kind of weird?

I rationalize that perhaps he’ll come clean to Tiendi one day, so that they don’t have this huge secret between them. Or maybe Tiendi will figure it out herself at some point, since she’s gaining in Sikawasay knowledge and skills..?

Plus, there’s that epilogue, where we see that Tiendi is able to see Kakarayan, as he stands there outside the window, gazing affectionately at her. She stares in wonder for a moment, but doesn’t actually seem that surprised.

That makes me feel that Tiendi’s more connected to the supernatural than she realizes.

So.. perhaps their relationship in this new world will be just as supernaturally tinged as it had been in the previous world, and we just don’t see it yet..?

All in all, this turned out to be an interesting and rather educational watch, even though Show never stole my heart.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Not for everyone, but ambitious and interesting, objectively speaking.

FINAL GRADE: B+

TRAILER:

MV:

WHERE TO WATCH:

You can check out this show on iQIYI here.

GETTING AROUND GEO-RESTRICTIONS

If you’re geo-restricted, a VPN service would help you get around that. Not only does it provide online safety, it also gives you access to lots of great geo-restricted content.

I personally use NordVPN. You can find my review of NordVPN here.

You can use my affiliate link (here!) to enjoy up to 60% * off, with prices starting as low as US$3.29 per month.

* This used to say 73%, but because NordVPN’s changed the way it calculates the discount, it now says 60%. BUT, it’s the same great price, starting from US$3.29 a month!

An article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.

PATREON UPDATE!

The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Rainless Love in a Godless Land, is Our Blues. I’ve taken an initial look, and I’m happy to say that I feel it’s off to a solid start. My E1 notes on Our Blues can be found here.

Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!

Foundation Tier (US$1): k-ent tidbits + E1 notes of all shows covered on Patreon

Early Access (US$5): +Our Blues

Early Access Plus (US$10): +A Business Proposal

VIP (US$15): +Pachinko

VVIP (US$20): +My Liberation Notes

Ultimate (US$25): +Twenty Five, Twenty One

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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JJ
JJ
5 months ago

@KFG – Not sure if the Show stole my heart, but sure did fascinate me and I loved watching it for sure. Im still grappling with the last three episodes and must rewatch them for continuity because so much happened I think I missed a bunch of key points.

I would give this Show an A because of the quality acting from the entire cast, the story, the use of a first people’s legend used so creatively to put in a modern day setting and all the environmental love peppered throughout the Show.

Now if they had worked in a Unicorn, it would have been an A+ for sure 🥰🦄

CarpControl
CarpControl
5 months ago

You’re right kFG, I too have a feeling I liked, & I still like the show more in its concept, than its execution. Two reasons why I could not fully lose my heart to it was because A. I have a feeling there are a few instances where the show failed its own internal-logic, esp concerning Toem’s motivations. But I’m too dumb/ sleep-deprived to figure out how, unless I re-watch fully.

And B. I simply could not digest how conveniently the environmental-crisis arc was wrapped/ fixed with a magic-wand because turns out,

Spoiler
that too, was a part of the lie that Lemed built.

The Kawas were never angry & they weren’t leaving to punish the humans for destroying nature.

To think that there is only ONE Creator, along with his slightly crazy lackey who keeps creating different iterations of ‘worlds‘ just so that Kakarayan can experience the love of a mortal that he once loved. WTH. -_- I feel cheated, & I completely echo Fali’s frustration with Kakarayan! 🤣

At some point, I figured the animated prologue of the folk-legends weave-into our main plot.. Except, it isn’t done chronologically, so that keeps things fun!

Actor Fu Meng Bo, despite his umbrella, brooding countenance & overcoats, reminds me more of Nam Joo-Hyuk and Ahn Hyo-Seop visually (than say Gong Yoo of Goblin). I love those two men, and perhaps why I grew major heart-eyes for him. Oh, and also his leaked smiles for Tien-di, like KFG says! 😛

Minor spoiler
There is something about an ancient God trying to protect the last onigiri at 7-11 for you! :’)

I enjoyed his relaxed, besotted vibes more, in the flashbacks, even though Tien-di’s uniform was just jarring and inappropriate in every context.😒

I still find it funny that just like SD1D, all answers were shown to us previously. TWICE before, we were shown Kakarayan,

K’s face
as he appears in front of Tien-Di/ Orad with Fu Meng Bo’s face

but we simply could not entertain the possibility till ep-12, eh? 😛

Speaking of Ep-12, it gave me a HEADACHE. The episode should have an epilepsy Trigger Warning. It took me two hours to watch. I still feel, Tien-Di (& her annoying ponytail) is severely miscast, as KFG says.😁

Last edited 5 months ago by kfangurl
CarpControl
CarpControl
5 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Well, on the plus side, the show could have gone into ‘Goblin’ or ‘Doom At Your Service’ territory, both of which I found annoying, & ended up dropping early into the watch. So I’m glad, Rainless turned out to be very different!

I’d still say the show suffered from pacing-issues, where they tried to squeeze more than any viewer can digest over the 11th & 12th episode.

Spoiler
The big-reveal of the ‘tomato-in-the-mirror’ (thanks, tvtropes!)
made me question the reality of my own existence, and not in a very nice way. I really was hoping for it to do the same magic as SD1D did! Alas! 😛

Thanks KFG for editing the last comment; I shall be more generous with the spoiler-tags from here on! ^^

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago

As it turns out, Rainless and I are a good fit. It has a range of anthropological elements that appeal to my greater interest. The use of first people (Ami) mythology and preserved culture to the extent used, is to be applauded. Show is therefore, as kfangurl says “ambitious” in that we have a drama like no other re spiritual (Kawas) integration. Also, in hand with this, I find the Taiwanese are the best at making spirit/supernatural/mythical shows.

I found the way in which language was used kept me actively transfixed for the first 11 episodes. In this regard, I find Taiwanese actors are very good at portraying conversations in a natural setting. In fact, not unlike some Singaporean shows for that matter or those from Hong Kong.

The standout character for me was certainly Toem. Alice Ke turned in a fine performance. Samantha Ko as Banai was not far behind.

Show was never about the romance for me, but the mythology. Still, I found the final two episodes were challenging due to the “Bobby Ewing (Fali) Dream Season” reveal although I did like how Rainless ultimately ended. My further thoughts are neither the Chinese nor the Koreans could do the ending to such a changed up story this well. The CDrama version would have a sad, stoic ending and the Kdrama version would either be bitter sweet or with Tiendi living on her own on Jeju island.

The use of stories at the start of each episode based on Ami mythological concepts was interesting and intriguing, so much so, I invested quite a bit of time trawling my way through a number of academic studies and other resources – which I also enjoyed sharing with JJ throughout.

As for the OST, one of the few I have found consistently enjoyable throughout my watch of a drama.

Overall, I rated Rainless very high.

eda harris
eda harris
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

although i already had plans for my next dramas, (at least for this lifetime), i have to push this one up to first place ( which i am usually not that impulsive, but from what kfg and you are describing, it touched something that i can not ignore. it is exactly what my interests are: anthropology, anything ethnic, different religions and philosophies, anything ancient, legends and folk stories, spiritual aspects… etc. so i am in.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@Eda – I think you will enjoy the tone of Rainless. There are plenty of anthropological snippets in the conversations between characters that most watchers would miss. They aren’t earth shattering or anything, but just reinforce how important the retaining of the local beliefs and practices are to everyone that live in Taiwan.

eda harris
eda harris
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

i watched the first episode of rainless, and right from the beginning, it touched my heart and my mind. just the opening:

spoiler… not sure it is one, but as a precaution.
creator endowed the land with life, will, and rules. very basic, but SO to the point.
then: mountains, plants, air minerals, and earth became our parents. and birds, beasts, fish, and insects became our brothers.

regardless of anybody’s believe system, that should be the fundamental awareness of humanity as a whole. just introducing the drama this way, a concept so simple yet so deep, i was in this drama instantaneously

i watched it on youtube, but unfortunately only the first episode had english subs.
so i tried iQIYI, but it has only the first 6 episodes, and they it’s VP, and to sign up it charges $10 a month. is that the only way you can watch it?

eda harris
eda harris
5 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

KFG, thanks. i will try to look into it, with “try” as the operative word (by now you must believe in my extremely limited talents in electronic, computers and all kind of such devices. ) only beez can twist my arm, which she did. ha ha.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I think the Chinese are changing their tune a little bit this year. Every Cdrama I have completed so far has had a happy ending 😝

eda harris
eda harris
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

from your mouth to god’s ears!
god, please send my beloved TROP back to the writer to redo the ending – now with newfound understanding (if that is indeed true, i mean the “happy endings”.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@Eda – a wonderful saying. And I have now added You Are My Glory to my very happy ending list! A big thank you to both you and phl for recommending this show. It is the loveliest of dramas and deserves all the accolades it received last year. I binge watched it over the last few days, so other drama “projects” have been put on hold 😊 Lol re TROP

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– Any puppies, rainbows, or unicorns in it ???? 😉

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – YAMG is the very definition of puppies, rainbows and unicorns. It is impossible not to binge it when you start.

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– Cant wait!!! Thats how it was with Be My Princess. TAIFU!!!! 🙂

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

The bonus, JJ is that the ML is Yang Yang, who is also the ML in Who Rules The World! Which, despite what I said earlier, I have now started watching, and I have to say, yes, it is awesome. Yang Yang and Rosy Zhao are a great combination 😊

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– YAY you started!!! No more band practice for you 😉

Oh how fun!!! Too funny, I am watching them in the reverse order you did! YAY! I am so excited to have another bingeable Show lined up 🙂

Glad you like it so far, me too 🙂

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

😊😎😊

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

JJ – It is a slow burn but so worth it. Really glad Elaine brought this one to my attention. I also binged it – I could not stop watching. If you are not a gamer do stay with it as it is much more than that.

TAIFU BABY!!!!!!!! 💖💖💖💖

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– Oh so good to know. I do love a slow burn here and there and Ill hang in there even though I am not a gamer 🙂
#TAIFUFOREVER!!!!! 🦄🥰

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
5 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@Eda – god, please send my beloved TROP back to the writer to redo the ending – Amen to that Eda!!!

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– TAIFU!!!! Lol

Have you had a looksie at the new Cdrama on Netflix?
Who Rules The World
https://www.netflix.com/watch/81605079?trackId=14170286

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – Not as yet, but I came very close to starting on it yesterday. I think I need to wrap up My Sassy Princess, then I can start!

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– OMO! Let me tell you. This is my first Cdrama of this type and as of Episode 8 I am completely in love. Reaper started it and mentioned to me. I am so in!!! Come join us. GREAT, I mean GREAT OST so far 🙂

My Sassy Princess???

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – Reaper has done very well in suggesting WRTW – see my comments above.

My Sassy Princess is a 22 episode CDrama fun delight. It’s set in the Wei Dynasty and is quite a light, funny and romantic drama. The leads are dynamite together. Have a look at them in this tweet here: https://twitter.com/afterrnoont/status/1520025297374126085?s=21&t=yySI1bOlJvMq0O7gZuS8aA

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– Ill tell Reaper 🙂 We are not binging it but watching it 1 or 2 episodes a day. Man does he have patience!

Oh Light! Funny! And a romantic drama. Sign me up! Yay, I have more dramas on the list 🙂 Thank you!!!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – well, she (the princess) is a bit naughty too 😂

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– Same here, totally a good fit for me 🙂 Was so fun watching this one with you and all the research you did ! Thank you for all your notes they added so much to the discussion for me 🙂

Can we just talk about how amazing Joe Cheng was in this Show?

Spoiler Alert
Going from saying very little in each scene to having so many lines in rapid fire towards the end? GAH! I was totally mesmerized by his performance at the end. So much so I lost track of what was going on towards the end. I need to rewatch the last three episodes for continuity. I cannot believe he doesnt have stage experience. Maybe that he is also a singer helped with that delivery?

sent me this article, so I am assuming you have seen it as well???

https://mydramalist.com/article/exploring-amis-folk-tales-from-rainless-love-in-a-godless-land

Ahem, TKEM has enjoyable OST throughout the entire drama which you would have known if you made it to the end of TKEM. No, Im not bitter am I 😉

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – thank you for appreciating the extra “homework” I did re Rainless. I couldn’t help myself!

I think one of the factors with Joe Cheng is that he has an amazing breadth of experience. He actually started out as a model. So, he has presence alone before he says anything. It was like he was delivering these extensive monologues at times,

Yes, I did see this article and I thought it was very good.

A nice segue re TKEM – lol. One of the reasons I like the OST re Rainless, is that I could play Shi Shi’s Never Ending Rain straight up – it starts of in F#m7, and so is in a key that resonates very strongly on the guitar. It also has many of the same chords that are in I Can’t Tell You Why by the Eagles – a favourite song of mine that I have played for as long as I can remember 😊

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– I am sooo glad you couldnt help yourself as I loved reading your “homework” 🙂 It was so awesome to read and added so much depth to my watch.

Ah yes, thats why he had such presence when he was saying nothing. He had the experience. But those monologues! I really thought he had a theatre background with that delivery of intensity and all those lines. Amazing.

Im still working my way through the article 🙂

Any chance I get TKEM in a conversation, Im gonna do it 🙂

Is that why Shi Shi’s Never Ending Rain sounded so familiar? I just figured same musician as in Someday One Day 🙂

Mr. Fletcher! How do you have time for the guitar AND all those dramas?!!! Our Time Bending Man! 😉

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – Yes, I gathered that re TKEM 😂🤣😂 The great thing about the guitar is it can be played anywhere, and at any time. So, I had band practice this afternoon, which meant no drama watching!

JJ
JJ
5 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

– re:TKEM – 😇

GASP! No drama watching!?!?! Say it isnt so?!!!!

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
5 months ago
Reply to  JJ

@JJ – Yes, even I must do other things 🎸😝