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 at another Art Rare from VSTAR Universe.
This Paras is part of a nine-card connecting set that closes out the standard Art Rare section of the set. This connecting set is illustrated by Kouki Saitou, who has been contributing to the hobby since the early days of Aquapolis. Saitou is credited on over 600 cards, and this nine-card set is a celebration of a decades-long career of his Pokémon TCG art.
Saitou’s adorable Paras card is in the bottom left corner of this nine-card image. It appears below Bidoof and to the left of Poochyena, as the first of the lowest row of cards in the set. In this card, we actually see the source of the orange and yellow petals that were floating through the entire image, previously most prominently seen on the Bidoof, Pikachu, and Turtwig cards in the middle row. Paras is next to a garden of these delicate autumnal flowers, which are losing their petals as a delicate breeze passes by. Paras watches, amazed, as the petals fly above, toward the other Pokémon, their bright colors reflected in its entranced eyes.
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.