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 a Special Art Rare from the set.
This card, featuring Raikou V running at its full electrifying pace, is one of the most stunning illustrations I've seen so far in VSTAR Universe, which is saying a lot, considering this is essentially an entirely Alternate Art set. The artist here is nagimiso, and I am stunned by the use of color and textured brush strokes to create the sense of a blurring background due to this Legendary Pokémon's speed. nagimiso has been contributing to the Pokémon TCG since the special XY-era small set Double Crisis. Some of their most notable contributions have been Team Magma's Groudon EX and Team Aqua's Kyogre EX from that set, Cythnia Full Art from Sun & Moon – Ultra Prism, Shiny Charmeleon from Hidden Fates, Boss's Orders Full Art from Sword & Shield – Rebel Clash, Blaziken V Character Super Rare from Sword & Shield – Silver Tempest, and Jolteon V from SWSH Black Star Promos.
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.