It's a tale as old as time... Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy harbors inappropriate feelings for girl despite being married. Boy and girl engage in secret relationship that results in a child the same age as boy's grandchild.
Wait a minute.
Whether or not you're the type of person who likes to "ship" characters in various TV, movie, and game franchises, you have to admit there is something about the relationship between #Pokemon's Samuel "Sam" Oak and Delia Ketchum, the mother of main protagonist Ash Ketchum. Hints at something going on behind the scenes are made all the more curious when you remember that Ash's dad has never been shown on-screen.
Could the elderly professor and the young housewife actually be in a relationship? And could Professor Oak, the dad-like mentor and Pokémon icon actually be Ash's dad?! Find out all the answers on this week's episode of Desperate Housewives of Pallet Town.
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The Silver Fox and the Ginger Honey: Could Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum Be in a Secret Relationship?
Before I even get into the fact that Delia and Professor Oak are constantly seen together, I wanna take a step back and just look at their names. Could hints as to the nature of their relationship be present in something as simple as their names? Let's take a look:
- Samuel Oak
- Delia Ketchum
Do these two names remind you of anyone? Two... Biblical figures, perhaps?
Indeed, they're awfully similar to "Samson and Delilah," the mighty Nazirite whose strength came from his hair and the gorgeous woman he fell in love with who would eventually betray him. Though there's no official confirmation on why they were given these names, you have to admit that it's a bit curious (and has become even more suspicious with the introduction of "Samson Oak," Professor Oak's Alolan cousin).
As if this naming coincidence wasn't enough, it's also rather interesting that Ash just so happens to have a tree-related name. Ash? Oak? Perhaps that was Samuel and Delia's sly little way of giving away his "oaky" origins?
Together Forever, No Matter How Long
"...from now until the end of time."
I hope you sang that to the proper melody, but if not, no matter. I'm here to talk about the fact that Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum have the strange habit of constantly appearing together. Now, this may simply have been a result of storywriters and animators wanting to make sure both characters get a mention in a very short period of time, but there's no denying the fact that it's extraordinarily suspicious!
I mean, really!
Do they always...
...have to be...
...in the same scenes together?
In fact, it seems like every time Ash calls one of the two Pallet town residents, the other one not only makes an appearance, but is just a holler away, almost like some sort of married couple waiting for their son to call.
And then there's the banned episode "Beauty and the Beach," where Ash and co. are suddenly confronted by not only Professor Oak, but Ash's mom, too. Why are they there together? "We'll explain that later," says Professor Oak, brushing off Ash's confusion as the two of them flaunt their swimwear and don't seem to think it at all odd that an uninvolved grown man and woman would be taking what appears to be a romantic beach vacation together.
Skip to the ten minute mark in the video below for the couple's appearance (though there's a number of other suspicious comments made throughout the entire episode):
And what about the fact that Delia and Ash take a trip to Unova together with Professor Oak at the start of the Pokémon Black and White animated series like some kind of... of... well, family! If you knew absolutely nothing about Pokémon or its characters, there's a good chance you'd mistake Professor Oak for the father in these screenshots!
A Scandalous Past? Just How Long Has This Relationship Been Going On?!
All these images and "evidence," so to speak, point out that the Professor and Delia could currently be in a relationship, but what of their past? How did they first meet? How long has this hush-hush relationship been going on behind the scenes? For Ash to have any chance of being Professor Oak's son, it has to have been a while... and what we've learned about the couple so far does indeed prove that they've not only known each other for quite some time, but have known each other very well.
In the third Pokémon movie, Spell of the Unown: Entei, it's revealed that Delia was once a student of Professor Oak's together with fellow trainer Spencer Hale. The possibilities this creates are endless! In fact, the illicit student/teacher relationship has been a trope for longer than I've been alive. Could something have sparked between the knowledgable professor and his kind-hearted pigtailed student?
But what about Ash's father? The only hint we're ever given about him is an off-hand comment made by Delia in the anime's second episode. When Ash tells his mom that he made it to Viridian City, she replies that it "took your father four days to get there when he started Pokémon training. Oh, he'll be so proud! You are the apple of his eye!"
If Ash's father would be so proud, why isn't he there to congratulate Ash? In fact, why is he never there?! You would think a son following in his father's footsteps would warrant a visit or at least a letter every now and then! Unless, of course, Ash's father's identity is a secret that Delia (and the good Professor) aren't yet ready to divulge...
Will the truth ever be revealed?
Probably not. If there really is something going on behind the scenes between Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum, the fact that it's gone on this long without ever being overtly mentioned is a good indicator that it never will be. No doubt, we'll just keep being given random little hints and cameos to keep us questioning, guessing, and chuckling to ourselves at the thought.
And perhaps that's the way it should be. In all honesty, it wouldn't be nearly as fun scrounging for evidence and coming up with theories if it's explicitly stated. Also, think of what this could mean! If Ash is, indeed, Professor Oak's son, that would make him Gary's uncle, and how weird would that be?! They'd have to somehow explain that in the series and it would become this big thing and just... ruin what makes this couple so fun in the first place.
No, I believe it'll remain just like it is—a humorous running gag by the writers and animators meant to keep us speculating. So speculate away!