Pokémon TCG Japan: VSTAR Universe Preview: Gardenia SAR

After a few revealing leaks, Pokémon TCG Japan's high-class set VSTAR Universe has finally been revealed. VSTAR Universe will drop in Japan this December and is thought to be 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 thought to be 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. 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 a look at a Special Art Rare from the set.

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

Man, the Trainer Supporter Special Art Rares are elevating VSTAR Universe and by extension Crown Zenith more than other Alternate Art sets. I did not see this card type coming, and the beautiful variety of styles is dramatically enriching what a Trainer card can offer. This gorgeous Gardenia pairs this Grass-type Trainer with a Bellossom, showing a bonding moment between the two as she waters her Pokémon. There is also a Cherubi and Cherrim hiding out in the flowers of Gardenia's garden as well. Artist Yoriyuki Ikegami depicts this scene with stunning detail. Ikegami, whose Instagram has quite a few followers, is contributing to the TCG for the first time here.

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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