Pokémon Type Rants: Lucario

Telepathy?!

Written by ritabuuk and dubiousdisc
Posted on July 7th 2019
Lucario

In Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, Lucario talks. When it does so, Ash informs the audience that it is using telepathy. Throughout the movie, Lucario uses the special power of the Wave to see with its eyes closed, read the auras of things, and interact with convenient plot devices. Its appearance in this movie is in a role reminiscent of that of Mewtwo in the First Movie, as a brooding humanoid Pokémon that hangs around with Mew, with special powers, a deep voice, and massive thighs.

So, what type is Lucario? It's Psychic, right?

No. Lucario is Fighting/Steel. What?

Fighting, okay. Lucario is like a well-trained martial artist, who is so good at its discipline that it can sense enemies even with its eyes closed. Like Goemon in Lupin III.

But why is it Steel? It's not like Lucario has a samurai sword or anything. And there is nothing in Lucario's Pokédex entries mentioning anything about why it could be a Steel-type. All of its entries only talk about auras and reading minds and sensing emotions from far away and other suspiciously Psychic things like that.

Riolu

Lucario's unevolved form Riolu is a pure Fighting type, so it gains the Steel type when it evolves. We wondered if there was a clue here as to what changes between Riolu and Lucario, but no. Riolu's Pokédex entries also only talk about how Psychic it is, and the only difference in steeliness between Lucario and Riolu is in their designs: Lucario has a spike on its chest and the back of each of its hands, and Riolu doesn't, having only rounded bumps on its hands where Lucario's spikes will be.

So, is that really it? The chest spike and sharpened hand spikes make Lucario a Steel-type? Lots of other Pokémon have spikes in their design, and are not Steel-types. What about Groudon and its sixteen metal spikes down its sides? What about Torterra and all of its grey spiky details, especially the two coming out of its cheeks? What about Rampardos, which is basically decked out in punk jewelry? What about Hitmontop, a Fighting-type Pokémon with spikes on its feet and tail, so that when it spins it basically becomes the blades of a food processor? What about Gardevoir, who was impaled through the chest by a plastic watermelon slice? We could go on.

Lucario Groudon Torterra Rampardos Hitmontop Gardevoir
Which of these is spiky enough to be called a Steel-type?
Lucario in Brawl
Lucario using Aura Sphere in Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Lucario has three spikes, and the rest of its body is covered in fur. Lucario is a freaking furry! It's fuzzy and soft, not steely! And honestly, those spikes in its design are baffling anyway. What are they for? Just to maintain its emo-ness by warding off hugs and other displays of affection? It doesn't even use them in battle or anything. Watch what it does in the movie and in Super Smash Brothers. It uses the palm of its hand to fight with the wave, not the back to stab Marth or Ike or whoever else.

Instead of wasting half of its type to encode that it has three measly spikes, what about making it half-Psychic to encode its mind powers?

Maylene, Lucario, and Meditite
Only one of these Pokémon is a Psychic type.

It can understand human language (whatever that means, since all Pokémon do) and, in the movie, it can talk via telepathy. It can see with its eyes closed. It can read the aura of things. He shoots literal Hadoken! How is this not Psychic? Maybe you think Game Freak would want to avoid pairing Fighting with Psychic because they are opposed types, but, by when Lucario came out, that typing had already happened, with Meditite and Medicham, and their whole deal was that they meditate to become stronger fighters. That's essentially the same deal as Lucario. While we get it that with Lucario they're trying to use the Fighting type to encode that it has amazing discipline to the point of being practically psychic, Pokémon has the Psychic type, and there is a difference between Lucario and Machamp.

Lucario's aura power is codified in the games as the move Aura Sphere, which is a Special Attack-based Fighting-type move, advertising the Generation IV revamp of the move system. Previously, whether an attacking move would do its damage calculation with a Pokémon's Attack stat or Special Attack stat would depend on the type of the move. For example, all Fighting-type moves were set to use a Pokémon's Attack stat, and all Psychic-type moves were set to use a Pokémon's Special Attack stat. From Generation IV onwards, each move is individually categorized as physical or special regardless of its type, leading to whole new concepts for moves - like Aura Sphere, which is Fighting-type but uses the Special Attack stat. So, Lucario's concept is that of a Fighting-type Pokémon that can also use Special Attack effectively.

The problem is that the Fighting and Psychic types may be the progenitors of the Attack and Special divide. If The Helix Chamber's theories are right, Fighting and Psychic were among the earliest types that Game Freak invented, simultaneously with the concept of having separate stats for Attack and Special. You could think of Fighting and Psychic types as the "neutral" type of each category. If we try to think of a burst of pure physical power with no element associated with it, we think of the Fighting type. If we try to think of a blast of pure special power with no element associated with it, we think of the Psychic type. The Fighting type stands for focused and disciplined attack with the body, and the Psychic type stands for focused and disciplined attack with the mind.

All Moves: Reflect
Psychic vs. Fighting

With the elemental types, the revamp in Generation IV makes a lot of sense and fixes a lot of problems. It makes sense that Fire Punch would be physical, since it is a powered-up punch, and Fire Blast special, since it is a burst of energy. But with the Fighting type and the Psychic type, something seems wrong. If you do a Psychic-type move with your physical Attack, is that not Fighting? If you do a Fighting-type move with your Special Attack, is that not Psychic? How is the physical Psychic-type move Zen Headbutt actually Psychic? Drowzee is hitting you with its head, and if it focused first, doesn't that mean it's disciplined, and therefore Fighting? Then you have Lucario, with its Special Attack-based Fighting-type move Aura Sphere, in which it focuses its mental power to attack. How is that not Psychic?

While this problem between physical-Psychic and special-Fighting would still exist, being at the core of the functioning of Pokémon's types, Game Freak could have made it less evident in Lucario by making it Fighting/Psychic, so that then no one can argue and write this page. And it's especially egregious that they didn't do this while giving Lucario the Steel-type gratuitously, seemingly for no reason but cool points and a good type match-up. While we're all for cool type combinations, shouldn't they... make sense? Instead of having a few random spikes as the flimsiest excuse for the Steel type?

Sugimori clearfile
Lucario brooding among the cute Pokémon

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