Ash Ketchum’s father has always remained an enigma, who has never officially been revealed in the anime’s 23-year run. In fact, he’s rarely been mentioned. That will all change with the release of Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle (known as Pocket Monsters the Movie: Koko in Japan), according to director Tetsuo Yajima.
How Ash’s father plays into Secrets of the Jungle
The latest movie focuses on the character of Koko, a boy with his own father issues — his happens to be a Pokémon. In an interview with Oricon News, Yajima explains that the movie examines the theme of parental bonds. The film seeks to explore the true meaning of child and parent.
When faced with Koko and his caretaker, Zarude, Ash can’t help but reflect on his own father. It seems that he owes his personality and behavior to him. This will be the first time Ash acknowledges his father and speaks of him.
We expect this will just be a short segment of the movie, with his actual father not making an appearance, but we’ll have to wait until the movie actually debuts to see exactly what goes down! It’s quite interesting that after so long, Ash will finally be speaking about his absent dad. The movie opens on Christmas day in Japan, with an international release slated for sometime in 2021.
Translation of the interview with Tetsuo Yajima
Dogasu, of Dogasu’s Backpack, has kindly allowed us to share his translation of the relevant interview portion:
The source of Satoshi’s ability to take action is his father. What’s etched into the heart of a boy who’s still only ten years old.
In this movie, one part that’s sure to leave an impression is when Koko struggles with questions of both his very existence and the relationship between him and his father — “Am I a Pokémon? Or am I a human?” When he sees Koko struggling with this, the main character Satoshi reminisces about his own father, for the very first time, and talks about the effect his old man’s had on him. Satoshi’s mom has been appearing in the TV and movie series a number of times before, of course, but as a fan, hearing Satoshi bring up his dad now, at a time like this, was a huge shock. Director Yajima says: “The events in this movie take place after Zarude has been raising the baby Koko for ten years. They meet Satoshi and Pikachu in the jungle where they live, and little by little seeds of doubt begin to bud within Koko, who up until now had never questioned the idea that he himself is a Pokémon. And we show him questioning his own existence and the relationship between him and his father when he asks “Dada, am I a hewmann?””
During all that, having Satoshi go “When I see [Koko and the others], I’m reminded of my own papa,” and then having him go on to talk about his own father is something we’ve never done in the Pokémon series up until now. But when he sees Koko question the relationship with Zarude, his father, we thought it’d be unnatural for him to not bring up his own dad. Satoshi has never really talked about his father up until now, but since we have a story with a “parent and son” theme we had a perfect excuse to bring it up and so when Satoshi sees Zarude, the father, and Koko, the son, we had to come up with what kind of memories Satoshi’d have about his own father. He can say this about Koko as well, but since the parent who raised him is still around that means is existence and actions must have some kind of meaning. Also, Satoshi is the kind of boy who doesn’t look down on people and can make friends with just about anybody and so he connects to his friend Koko by talking not about his mother, but about his own father.
We all know Satoshi, and how he never gives up, and how he’s an energetic boy who has a positive outlook on life. We thought by making his father’s words be what make that Satoshi the way he is it’d make his actions make sense and would make for a great fit for this “parent and child story” that’s the central theme of this year’s film. Satoshi is working to become a Pokémon Master, and we feel that we should have the reasons he does the things he does come from his family. That’s because Satoshi is still a ten-year-old boy who needs the love of his parents, after all. By talking about his father for the first time, we’ll understand that his personality and the things he does come from his father.
Let us know what you think of this revelation and if you’d like to learn more about Ash’s dad in the future below in the comments or on Discord!