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 V, VSTAR 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 a look at a Special Art Rare from the set.
This gorgeous Leafeon VSTAR Special Art Rare was first leaked back in August 2028, when Bleeding Cool reported on it well before we knew what Special Art Rares would become. Now that we see the card in all of its glory, it seems as if it's right up there in quality and beauty with the famous Leafeon V Alternate Art from Sword & Shield – Evolving Skies. This Special Art Rare is illustrated by Jiro Sasumo, showcasing Leafeon in an indoor garden surrounded by beautiful flowers and glass displays. Sasumo was the winner of the 2nd Pokémon TCG Illustration Grand Prix and initially delivered his winning Charizard promo as his first published card. Sasumo began to contribute to the TCG regularly as of Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars with a memorable Vaporeon Character Rare. Other notable contributions are the Galarian Moltres V Character Super Rare from Sword & Shield – Astral Radiance and the Skuntank V Alternate Art from Sword & Shield – Silver Tempest.
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.