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Pokémon TCG Japan: VSTAR Universe Preview: All Connecting Art Rares

Pokémon TCG Japan: VSTAR Universe includes a nine-card connecting image by Kouki Saitou, who has been with the hobby since 2003's Aquapolis.

After a few revealing leaks, Pokémon TCG Japan's high-class set VSTAR Universe has finally been released. VSTAR Universe, which is available in Japan and locations that sell Japanese products, is the basis for the early 2023 English-language special set closing out the Sword & Shield era, Crown Zenith. Like previous special sets, VMAX Climax and Shiny Star VVSTAR Universe is primarily a reprint set with a large Secret Rare section of chase cards. Among these chase cards are what we initially thought were Alternate Art VSTARs, but which we can now reveal as a new card rarity entirely. Pokémon TCG Japan has revealed new Art Rares and Special Art Rares, which riff on Character Rares and Alternate (or Special) Arts. Art Rares are Full Art cards without texture that paint a beautiful, unique scene using Pokémon. They are essentially Character Rares without Trainers present. Then, Special Art Rares take the same concept and add the V or VSTAR mechanic. This set also includes Special Art Trainer Supporters and, for the first time ever, Gold Alternate Art VSTARs. It is expected that this will be the final set with Pokémon-V and VSTARs, as 2023 will see the launch of the Scarlet & Violet era, which returns to the Pokémon ex mechanic. Today, let's take at look at how the special collection of connecting Art Rares from VSTAR Universe looks together.

VSTAR Universe cards. Credit: Pokémon TCG
VSTAR Universe cards. Credit: Pokémon TCG

For the past week and a half, our VSTAR Universe spotlights have focused on artist Kouki Saitou's connecting set of nine Pokémon. Now, we see how these cards connect, creating a beautiful, floral image that shows us an intricate scene featuring Riolu, Swablu, Duskull, Bidoof, Pikachu, Turtwig, Paras, Poochyena, and Mareep. These cards are spectacular in that they perfectly exist as individual cards, which also contributes to the overall connecting image.

Saitou has been a fixture of the Pokémon TCG since the e-era set Aquapolis was released in 2003. Now, 23 years later, Saitou is still at the very top of his game. Other recent, memorable Saitou cards include the Espeon VMAX Alternate Art from Sword & Shield – Fusion Strike and the Radiant Charizard from this very set. Japanese sets often give us early ideas of what the English-language sets may include, so be sure to keep an eye on our coverage. You can stay tuned for previews of VSTAR Universe cards as well as updates on everything Pokémon TCG right here at Bleeding Cool.

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Theo DwyerAbout Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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