Poor Luvdisc. Somewhere along the line you became people’s go-to punching bag for Pokémon Who Serve No Practical Purpose.
Which is a shame, since I’m kinda fond of her. There’s a joy in a design that’s so to-the-point: a flatter discus-fish who plays up how cartoon fish are so often drawn with kissy-lips. The gentler, almost coral-camouflage shades of pink are quite pleasant, and not even having fins makes her looks like a happy little inflatable floating pool toy. Not much to write about, but she’s just nice.
Also, her alternate coloration is literally a heart of gold, which has to count for something.
Unfortunately, in-battle is where I have to give some ground. Her stats are all-around abysmal, neither her typing nor her passive ability are of any interest, and there’s not one thing she can do move-wise that isn’t accomplished better by her peers.
But do you know who loves Luvdisc?
The core Pokémon anime.
The upshot of a design being so simple is that she’s dead easy to throw in as a scene-filler, meaning she appears in the background in virtually every episode with an underwater scene or an aquarium. A clear and geometric silhouette, with only three colors present, that artists don’t even need to animate as swimming? That’s a gimme to an animator on a deadline who needs to spice up an environment.
That’s about where the buck stops, though. Initially she had some in-game utility since wild Luvdisc would often carry a Heart Scale item, valuable as a currency for in-game move tutors. But given that this basically encouraged in-game poaching (or a catch-and-release program, if you’re being generous), the series has steadily added other ways to obtain Heart Scales, and steadily removed the need to even look at a Luvdisc. The few recent Pokédex entries even reference this player poaching behavior as an excuse for its dwindling appearance, and given that she’s been absent from the last three non-remake rounds of games, I’d wager that trend is set in stone.
Granted, you could argue it’s a strong suit that she doesn’t aspire to be flashy or competitive or even complicate the games with a unique mechanic. Most of what she does is symbolism, which is a lot of these monsters’ strong-suits anyway. Who doesn’t adore the idea of a living love charm, especially one who loses energy and literally makes itself prey if divorced from its school or life partner? Now that’s a commitment to the bit.
With so many monsters vying for attention, it’s nice to have more unassuming ones floating around to give us a baseline. Low aspirations are hardly a crime; we need some of those softballs to fill out the world now and again. But that also makes it hard to get in Luvdisc’s corner with any sort of enthusiasm, leading to a draining effect where basically everybody can agree on apathy around this poor girl.
Famously denied of an evolution, it’s harder and harder to argue that Luvdisc should be included in each new game. I love the idea of her as a scene-filler, especially in animation, but one more scene-filler is only exacerbating core games’ scope creep at this stage. This gal is pleasantly inoffensive, but would need some real attention to turn around her fate of being Retired from the series-at-large.
Any and all appreciation for Luvdisc is welcome in the comments!