by Cho Na, November 22, 2021
59

Warning: LIGHT SPOILERS from Episode 1 - 3 (story/characters), 1 - 5 (images)



INTRODUCTION




I have a soft spot for Taiwanese dramas, so I'm excited that finally I'm able to find one to write a recap about: Rainless Love in a Godless Land (further referred as RLIAGL). I think this urban fantasy story is pretty unique, as it interprets a myth from Taiwanese indigenous ethnic group Amis. Let me introduce you to this tribe and its culture, before we delve into the drama.

The Amis are the largest indigenous Austronesian ethnic group in Taiwan. Traditionally, they are primarily fishermen, and live along the coastal lines of Taiwan. They speak the Amis language. Though the Amis have converted to Christianity, their animistic beliefs and Christianity have syncretized and the term kawas is still used. Kawas refers to an Amis supernatural entity. Kawas are divided into 6 groups: gods, ancestors, souls of living, spirits of living things, spirits of lifeless objects, and ghosts (source: Wikipedia)In the right picture is one of RLIAGL's kawas, Orad, who is the Male Lead.

In this drama, besides kawas, you will find more about Amis culture, including Amis language and songs. Don't worry about the terminology. They will be explained to you in the drama. However, if you forget about the keywords and their meanings, you can check out Glossary for Rainless Love in a Godless Land, credited to our fellow MDLer Kumaxell, who compiled them.


Rainless Love in a Godless Land (無神之地不下雨)

Genres:  Mystery,  Romance,  Fantasy
Episodes: 13
Aired On: Sunday
Aired: Oct 17, 2021 - Jan  9, 2022
Duration: 1 hr. 15 min.

Watch trailer: iQiyi
Watch drama: iQiyi




STORY





RLIAGL is based on the animist mythology of the Amis tribe. At the end of time, all gods will leave before the last rain falls to return home to Pinokayan (heaven), symbolized by a mystical door as depicted in the right image. Unexpectedly, the gods' plan to retreat is disrupted by an ordinary human girl, Xie Tian Di. As the world moves towards the unknown, Tian Di discovers that the opportunity to undo destiny is tied to her and her guardian spirit. With doomsday approaching, a love story between a human and a god is about to unfold (source: iQiyi).





CHARACTERS




     Main Characters      

Xie Tian Di (Joanne Tseng)

The tour guide for private group tours of Mountain Travel Agency. She is an Amis. Tian Di is very spiritual and always grateful for god's help in her life. No matter how bad things happen to her, she always miraculously overcomes the dangers. When Tian Di was a child, she was sent away by her grandmother Banai to be adopted. Since then, Tian Di often has nightmares of a pair of bloody red eyes chasing her. However, a tall man always appears, pulling her to escape from the red eyes. But Tian Di cannot remember what the man looks like.

Orad (Fu Meng Bo)

The God of Rain and Kakarayan's messenger. Kakarayan is the all-powerful creator who creates the land with life, boundaries, rules, as well as the Kawas. Kawas are the gods of nature who give blessings and protection to the human. Orad is one of the Kawas who is above other gods. He controls rain, moves instantaneously, and follows wherever the Kawas go. 

Orad is also Xi Tian Di's guardian spirit since she was little, and is always fascinated by her optimistic view of life.

      Key Supporting Characters      

Fali (Joe Cheng)

The God of Wind and the Director of Cause and Effect Correction Bureau. Fali leads the task of evacuation of the gods from the land. He is also in charge of the Comb of Memories. The magic tool fixes the cause and effect of everything through erasing memories. With it, the world advances under Kakarayan's arrangement. Fali believes that everything in the world is equal, right and wrong, black or white, and there shouldn't be any gray area. Any slight difference, he will correct it without fail.

Toem (Alice Ke)

The Goddess of Clouds and Mist. Toem is unpredictable and often appears during critical moments. She possesses the ability to move instantaneously and moves around people's hearts. She can spy on everyone's memories, thoughts, and hidden desires, including the Kawas'.

One day, Toem saw a vision on the Reflection of Time that she could not accept. She rebelled against it, and since then she makes her own decisions. Reflection of Time is a heavenly function that shows future events.

Li Pu Hui (Yan Yu Lin)

The God of Wisdom and a friend of Orad for thousands of years. He is also a university philosophy professor in the human world. Unlike most gods who are born and bred by nature, Li Pu Hui was born from the wisdom of humans. He has a good eloquence and is more eager to associate with humans than other gods. Besides discussing philosophy and wisdom, Pu Hui loves enjoying life, including gambling and drinking. He is the husband of Malukasadat.

     Other Supporting Characters     

Malukasadat 
Banai
Li Pu Hui's wife and the Goddess of Combing, keeper of the Comb of Memories. She is Fali's assistant. An organized, strict and professional one. 
Xie Tian Di's grandmother and a sikawasay (Amis tribe priestess). Banai can't do things regular people do, such as raising her granddaughter.
Raka 
Cariwciw
The Goddess of Sea Corals. In the era when people gradually forget about gods, Raka hides her identity and lives with humans.
The Goddess of Warbling white-eyed bird, Banai's guardian spirit and has been with her for a long time. She is lively and talkative.




FIRST IMPRESSION




After watching 5 first episodes, I found some elements that make RLIAGL different from other urban fantasy dramas, either from Taiwan or other countries. I will discuss what makes it unique, and then give a general overview of the drama. 

     Unique Elements     

      Environmental Issue and its Impact: The Amis Way     

RLIAGL opens with a beautiful computer animated scene of an idyllic world created by Kakarayan. Then it follows with the eye-opening real world: piles of trash everywhere, side-by-side with once beautiful nature. The opening OST is also accompanied by stunning visual effect integrating waste products and polluted nature. Right from the bat, the audiences are presented with environmental issues. That's the underlying reason the gods are leaving. Kakarayan is abandoning the earth because humans ruin it.


     Kawas: The Unusual Gods      

The gods in RLIAGL are humanized, modernized, and personalized. When Kakarayan created the kawas, as told in the beginning of the drama, they are human's brothers and sisters. Kawas who become the guardian spirits of some humans, like Orad and Cariwciw, treat Tian Di like his sister and Banai like her mother. Li Pu Hui seems everyone's favorite. He is an easygoing and approachable professor. You won't see kawas wear uniformly white robes like the Chinese xian xia's gods. They all wear modern clothes, even fancy ones. Toem, the unpredictable Goddess of Clouds, is the most fashionable of all. According to the Amis myth, the clouds in the sky used to be colorful. Every kawas has his/her own personality, and their appearance fit their characters. Malukasadat wears a pristine clean white fancy suit matches her work profesionalism. Raka wears homey, casual muumuu matches her character as a doting grandma. Cariwciw wears a green country style dress as she is the Goddess of Warbling white-eyed bird.


     Cinematography: The Traditional, The Modern, and the Futuristic     

At the beginning of an episode, there is an Amis story telling of its myth with colorful comic style.
 
The cinematography in RLIAGL blends the traditional Amis nature, modern urban environment, and the futuristic CGI setting. We see Amis architecture around Taitun, Tian Di and Banai's hometown. Banai also wears traditional costume and practice during ceremony. 
Meanwhile, in metro Taipei, the hustle and bustle of modern life is depicted in urban cinematography as seen in above picture. Graffiti has become visualized as a growing urban problem for many cities in industrialized nations. Yet, the art in this graffiti is well-made.

The futuristic elements are represented by minimal CGI effects, and use more props. For example the vision of futuristic wasteland as seen on the right picture.

     General Overview    

Now I will give you my opinion of some general elements: characterization, the acting, and the OST.

     How the Story Goes    

The story plot is not told linear, so audiences need to pay attention from beginning to end of each episode. It starts with a little folktale in Amis language (subtitled) with colorful anime as shown below. This part basically foretells or explains the story the Amis way. Then there is the main story, with a preliminary scene before the opening theme. The main story contains a lot of flashbacks of time period of 2009 when Tian Di is a little girl, 2016 when she is a teenager, present time, and bits of future as seen in Reflection of Time. The main plot finishes with a cliffhanger. Then a glimpse of the next episode. Finally, it ends with extra scenes that sometimes reveal a funny secret.


      Xie Tian Di: a Strong Female Lead       

The heroine Tian Di was made, not born. When she was little, her parents died. Her grandma Banai tried to raise her, but failed. She was sent away to Taipei, to be adopted by a woman to be called aunt. She is haunted by nightmares of someone with a pair of red eyes. Orad has been her guardian spirit for a long time, though she doesn't know it. It seems she has to be saved by him multiple times. But he cannot save her from the pain of abandonment by her family. Neither can he save her from her own decision, when she is finally allowed to see what future brings her. 

Tian Di is not fated to be a heroine. She is made to be one.


      Acting of Seasoned Actors       

Unless you just started your journey, if you have been a while in Asian dramaland, you may at least hear about the actors/actresses who played in RLIAGL. I am quite new, so I have never watched Joanne Tseng, who played as Tian Di, nor Joe Chen, but both have acted since early 2000. I still have some dramas with Joanne Tseng as the main characters waiting on my PTW list. As for Fu Meng Bo, I have seen him in historical Cdrama The Sleuth of Ming Dynasty (2020) as the Male Lead who suffers from PTSD. I also saw him and Alice Ke in Taiwanese movie Your Love Song (2020). As for Alice Ke, a lot of us should have seen her playing multi characters from the masterpiece drama Someday or One Day (2019). Since I will also talk about the drama later, I will further refer to it as SOOD. She and Yan Yu Lin are in that phenomenal Taiwanese drama. Yan Yu Lin played as the brothers who are classmates of the main actors in different timelines. Everyone who watched SOOD should've known his doppelganger characters. 

The GIF below shows Alice Ke's outstanding micro expressions, from being delighted to downcast. Both expressions are delivered in one scene, in a matter of minutes of the story. The scene is cut to avoid spoiler.


     Outstanding Original Sound Track     

These are the OST songs up to Episode 5. You can also find the links on the drama page. Thanks to fellow MDLer XINwei, who listed them in Rainless Love in a Godless Land OST.

The OST songs so far are very good, and I even had the opening theme The Last Second in a loop while writing this article. The lyrics of that song is just heartbreaking. Shi Shi, who sang the ending theme, also has a cameo appearance in RLIAGL. She and group Mayday, that sang the insert song Contentment, also contributed some OST songs in SOOD. Astro Bunny's songs introduce traditional Amis musical instruments. Two songs are sung partly in Amis language: Be Yours and Katayni. Katayni is an Amis word that means "let me hear you".

Opening theme:
by 九澤CP (Jiuze CP)
Ending theme:
Insert songs:
by Astro Bunny
Insert song:
by Mayday
Insert song:
(Men Envy Children)


     Cameo Appearance      

Just for fun, here are cameo appearance of some Taiwanese actors up to Episode 5.
Who do you know? If you don't, click on the greyed area to find out their names and links.

Watch the last GIF 
by the end of this article!




FORETHOUGHTS




The gods' departure in RLIAGL affects the natural balance. However, so far in the drama there is no sign that the earth is in catastrophe. I don't think this drama will go into sci-fi genre, and the leads will save the world, like in Hollywood doomsday movies. The environmental issue is a serious problem to tackle in a drama. I only guess the plot will fix the environmental issue the Amis way, whatever it will be. 

Whether the environmental issue is fixed or the earth is doomed, I think in RLIAGL should be watched in a lighter mood. So why the doomsday theme, with the gods' departure, is set as the plot background? I think this drama sends a subtle warning to the audiences about a life lesson to take care of our beloved earth. Before our gods leave.

Readers probably want to know about the plot, romance wise. I can say that the romance process is slow burn. Although Orad is Xie Tian Di's guardian spirit since she was little, she only saw him in dreams. Only later in her adulthood that she is aware of his existence.

RLIAGL and SOOD were produced by the same production team and the scripts are written by the same writer, Chi Feng Chien. Therefore, I dare not to guess on how this drama will end. All I assume, we may not get a messy ending because of censorship cut in a fantasy plot, like what commonly happens in Cdramas. Let's just watch with no high expectation and hope it will be a tight plot with minimum or no plot holes that deliver a good ending. Or this drama will not stay memorable in the mind of audiences!





CONCLUSION




In my opinion, Rainless Love in a Godless Land is definitely a Taiwanese drama that is worth checking out. The urban fantasy plot is unique as it creatively blends together Taiwanese indigenous tribe's folklore, doom and destruction, and a romance between a human and a god. The only caveat is: the drama runs one episode a week. If you want to binge-watch, wait until next year, lol! The drama ends on January 9, 2022 or January 2, 2022 for iQiyi VIP members. Or you can watch it while it's currently airing. Though I advise you to make some notes on things, since the plot is not linear and full of flashbacks. So you may not forget the story and some secrets that may be revealed later. And watch other dramas while you wait patiently. ;D

Well, this drama is not only about doom and gloom. There is humor thrown here and there. The scene below is a joke made by the production team who created both Someday Or One Day and Rainless Love in a Godless Land!


THANK YOU FOR READING AND HAPPY WATCHING!

Acknowledgement and credits: Thank you to the editors who edited this article. I do not own any of the images; credits go to their respective owners. The images are from Internet search, drama poster, stills, and screenshots. GIFs are self-made from drama scenes.


Edited by: Tine (1st editor), devitto (2nd editor)

taiwanese drama joe cheng someday or one day rainless love amis joanne tseng fu meng bo alice ke yan yu lin

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