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 V, VSTAR 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 the first Special Art Rare Trainer from the set.
Here is the first major difference between Special Art Rares and Alternate Arts. Alternate Arts have so far appeared on Pokémon-V and Pokémon VMAX. Special Art Rares appear on both of those as well as VSTARs and now Trainer Supporters. These differ from standard Full Art Trainers in that they create a unique scene rather than just delivering a posed Trainer. The first one we're spotlighting here is a cute card of Raihan signing a Poké Ball for an adoring fan who is wearing the same jacket as him. Raihan is making that merch money! This card is illustrated by GIDORA, who has been contributing to the Pokémon TCG since Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars. You'll likely remember their artwork from the Boltund V Character Super Rare from Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars, Charizard Character Rare from Sword & Shield – Lost Origin, and Torracat 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.