Delia Ketchum / Hanako
In his novels “Pocket Monsters the Animation”, Takeshi Shudo dwelt very much upon Delia Ketchum, often repeating, during the narration, that reading this information would help us learn more about Ash and his future events.
Ash has inherited the character from his mother Delia Ketchum (Hanako in Japanese), who in fact we are used to see always smiling and carefree. Even as a mother, she has always been a strong and courageous woman, despite the enormous sufferings she had to endure in her life.
Delia is in fact very young and the relationship between Ash and her is much more like the one between brother and sister, rather than the one between mother and son. At the beginning of the anime, Delia still was under her 30s, even though she already had an 11-year old child. So, the day when Ash left for his trip, while wiping away her tears, she thought:
«… Tears, huh… I’m still young but, although my young age, I’m already the mother of a fully-fledged adult… As his mother, I’ve had to prove to be brave… I remember all the past ten years, ten months and ten days with Ash… All the adversities… All the painful moments in which it seemed impossible to go on… The period of motherhood was really tough… But it was worth it.»
Since Ash’s father left home, she did not shed a single tear for a farewell any longer, although she generally was a person who tended to cry like a baby or have exaggerated reactions, even for a simple splinter stuck in a finger.
It all started when Delia was only 18 years old and her mother was still alive. A young aspiring Pokémon trainer was staying in her inn, the “Pallet House“. Delia immediately fell in love with him and their relationship quickly became stronger, so much that they got married in a heartbeat. But right after Ash’s birth, the young man left the town and never came back. To make matters worse, Delia’s mother soon got ill and passed away, leaving her daughter alone with the Pallet House and the new-born Ash.
At that point, Delia had no choice but to be strong. Even if her husband had come back home, after leaving her alone for over ten years, she would have completely ignored him. If someone asked her: «Do you still love him?» her answer would be a clear «No!».
Despite this, Delia rejected all the proposals she received from other men, because she actually never wanted to divorce from Ash’s father. There were even a few rumors of her relationships with other men, but none of them was true.
Until the day Ash left home to travel and become a Pokémon Trainer, Delia managed to go on on her own. «It’s natural…» she thought to herself. Ash is her beloved son and she would take care of him until the day of his departure. It was her responsibility.
The relationship between Ash and Delia
As already said, there is a very unique relationship between Delia and Ash, very similar to the one existing between a couple of friends or brothers. Sometimes Ash wondered if some of Delia’s behaviors were the same of a typical mother and wanted her to be more like a normal adult woman. He often accused her of “pulling the mom card” only when it was convenient.
As a matter of fact, on the day of Ash’s departure Delia began to fantasize a bit. She was sad but at the same time she felt like a student who is about to start his summer holidays without any homework to do: starting from the following day she would have returned to be a free woman. Given that she still was so young, she could devote herself to many things. But until the next morning she still had to be the mother of Ash.
Shudo explains that being a mother is already a very hard job. However, despite her situation, Delia has never perceived her motherhood as something tough. After all it was better than remaining completely alone, after her husband had left home.
Of course it has never been so easy for her… Despite that, every once in a while Delia felt the need to say «Thanks baby» to Ash.
Just to give an example, Ash became rebellious for the first time around the age of three. He combined a prank after another and, in order to keep him quiet, Delia often pretended to cry:
«Having such a rebellious son makes me the most unfortunate beauty in the world… Sniff, sniff. Waaah, waaaah»
However, as usual at her age, girls should go out and have fun rather than working as single mothers. That’s why Delia felt so unfortunate. At the beginning, she started to pretend to cry, but her tears soon became real when she started to stop and think of her life situation.
Ash was caught off guard when seeing his mother crying, so he immediately stopped making trouble. Then he approached her with a very sweet expression and asked: «Mom, what’s wrong? Are you ok? ». This gesture consoled Delia and made her feel the need to express her gratitude to his son.
Delia and the fathers of the bullies
When the bullies picked on Ash at the kindergarten and then to school, he’d get the teachers or the bullies fathers to tell them off. Or else, if the fathers of the bullies didn’t rebuke them, he would made sure the teacher did.
These bullies were children who at home didn’t breath an atmosphere of serenity. They were often children of single fathers or of husbands who were kicked out of the house after a marital dispute. If these men were looking for something to eat they had two options: a bento from the only convenience store of the village or going to the Pallet House (being the only restaurant in Pallet Town).
Delia, just like Ash, has the ability to always find the right words to help someone in need, so when these family men decided to eat at the Pallet House, she scolded them:
«Children need a mother and a father! Especially a father! You can’t underestimate the importance of a father! A father can’t just be working all the time! He has to spend time at home!»
Delia knew well what she was saying, she had the experience of both her father (Ash’s grandfather) and her husband: both left the family to become Pokémon trainers and never returned.
Thus, the men would remain silent and let her talk. In exchange, if you can call it like that, Delia would listen to their problems with their wives.
The mothers in the country, therefore, never complained the fact that their husbands came home late at night saying they were at the Pallet House. On the contrary, they would consider it a relief, because talking with Delia would inspire the fathers of Pallet Town to do their best for the home and their children. This helped to improve the mood of mothers in the town. So, with both parents in a good mood, children would breath a climate of serenity and bullying against Ash ceased. Being no longer picked on, Ash was delighted to be able to focus only on its pranks. He loved to play around and cause mischief. Delia rebuked him when he was causing too many problems, but she never forced him to focus on his studies.
Delia has always wanted to convey optimism and serenity to Ash, therefore, also thanks to his strong character, he was never deeply shocked by the absence of his father, however as a child, he used to ask about him to his mom. He wanted to know what kind of person he was and what he was doing. He addressed to her the same questions also about his grandfather. Delia initially replied that they were two very special pokémon trainers. However, when Ash was five years old, she decided to reveal him the truth: though they left to become pokémon trainers, no one has heard anything about them. There is no evidence that they really became trainers.
Whether his father and grandfather were or were not good trainers made no difference in his desire to become a Pokémon trainer. However, if Ash had found out on the internet or when he grew up, it may have come as a shock.
Paradoxically, having the weight of his father and grandfather failures on him was a kind of weird encouragement for Ash:
«I’m not going to end up like dad or grandpa!»
Said Ash to his mother, the night before leaving for his trip. But Delia thought, within herself:
«If he was anything like his father, he may never be back »
It was natural that Ash would have ended up dreaming of becoming a Pokémon trainer. Delia herself sometimes muttered: «Your dad and grandpa are out there somewhere trying to become Pokémon Trainers… Must be nice out there…»
She would say that only occasionaly but, in over ten years, this sentence ended to reach Ash’s ears many times, triggering in him the desire to become a Pokémon trainer.
If she didn’t had to take over the Pallet House, being the only child of her family, Delia would have ignored any opposition of her mother and once she became ten she would have left home to become a Pokémon trainer, just like Ash.
The Voltorb shaped alarm clock
Pokémon themed goods are always a best seller, so you can’t get them in a small village like Pallet Town. Consequently to get that clock, Delia had to leave her busy schedule for three days and go to a department store in the metropolis of Cerulean City, where she waited five hours in line to buy it.
For Delia, that Voltorb clock held more significance than just a birthday present for his son: it was an expression of motherly love for Ash to take on his journey. His birthday was only a suitable opportunity to give it to him.
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