Pokémon 25th anniversary predictions: TCG and all the rest

When it comes to the 25th anniversary of Pokémon, 2021 is going to have a ton of surprises. We’ve already talked about what I think is in store for the merchandise and games (be sure to give those a read), but now it’s time to look at the trading card game. Luckily, we know about a lot of them due to things like trademarks and Japanese announcements. The TCG is a prime example of knowing what to expect here in the west due to trends in Japan. Since sets there come out long before we get them, it’s hard to be surprised. But, we’ve got some cool things to look forward to. Let’s take a look.

Trading Card Game: The realistic prediction

Due to leaks, trademarks, and tons of resources, we know a lot about what to expect for the Pokémon TCG in 2021. We know about Shining Fates, set names in Japan for the first half of the year, and even an actual 25th anniversary set due as an additional set later in the year. These are all easy to guess, appreciated, and perfectly fit in line with the 20th anniversary that came before.

During the announcements this week, we also found out about the First Partner sets of jumbo booster packs. Every starter Pokémon’s first appearance card will be reprinted as jumbo cards in a special 25th anniversary set and released across eight months. The boosters include the jumbo cards for that month’s region and two normal booster packs in the pack. It rings similar to the Mythical year during the 20th anniversary. Each month was themed around a particular Mythical, starting with Mew and ending with Meloetta for 11 months. 

Starting off in March, we’re going to see the Galar starters and work our way to Kanto. You can also get a special binder designed for jumbo cards that includes the Base Set Pikachu as a jumbo card. It’s honestly all neat. This means, though, that each month will have a hard focus on cards, plushies, toys, and merch to match each one. So, I expect to keep an eye out each month for those.

Let’s talk about what we don’t know, but can take a realistic guess about. In Japan, plenty of promo sets come out each year. Sometimes they focus on individual trainers (like the 2020 Marnie set). With the mobile title Pokémon Masters bringing together trainers from across the history of the franchise, special card sets could dive into a lot of the oft-overlooked trainers. I’d love to see cards like Professor Oak’s Mew or Blue’s Pigeot, for instance, that would be really nostalgic to fans of sets like Gym Heroes and Gym Challenge from back in the day. They could even have fun with Sygna Suits here too! We might even see some promos for New Pokémon Snap as a reference to the original Black Star Snap promos.

With cards coming out in Japan in that fashion, we’d slowly see many of them trickle into English (and international) sets as well. This could form a basis of our secondary special set later in the year. This could also tie in plenty of silver anniversary cards, such as my hopes at some of that earlier-mentioned Gen 2 love.

Trading Card Game: The delusions-of-grandeur prediction

Like I mentioned earlier, neat special boxes come out all the time in Japan. Sometimes, however, they make special merch based around an idea, such as Team Rocket. The Team Rocket Special Case was released for the 20th anniversary in 2016 and was a hefty promotional item, literally. It was a pretty large actual briefcase that only had two cards inside, as well as a deck box, sleeves, and a coin. At the time, it was in Japan only. But, what if we see it in English for the 25th anniversary? 

Here’s a big one: translate all the Japanese cards made in 2021 to English in 2021. I know this may seem silly to call “unrealistic” from casual fans that don’t know. But, many cards that show up in Japanese sets, promo cards, and special releases never see a translation to English at all. While sets seemingly line up more often than not, there’s many more sets that are slowly shuffled into English sets over time, if at all. Costumed Pikachus are a common example, such as cards where Pikachu is dressed as Super Mario and Luigi for a special box set. Pikachu often wears costumes in other cards of other Pokémon, or collaborative clothing lines. There were promos made of Pikachu dressed as all of the bosses of each evil organization, such as Team Rocket Giovanni Pikachu. Give us an English costumed set! Do it, you cowards!

The Other Things: The realistic prediction

We’ve already seen the 25th anniversary celebrations kick off with an announcement trailer, Katy Perry being involved, and several other little things (such as the jumbo card packs mentioned earlier). Additionally, we got our first real trailer and release date for New Pokémon Snap. These are all just the starting point, of course. This was the whet our appetites. Pokémon Day is on February 27th, so plenty more can be announced in a Pokémon Direct all at once.

What should we really expect for Pokémon Day, though? Realistically, we’ll likely see more information on Pokémon Unite (the MOBA in development with Tencent). We might finally see Detective Pikachu 2 or Pokémon Sleep. We’ll likely get first looks at the next Pokémon animated movie. Plenty of toys and merch will have special sales across multiple brands. If it’s like last year, they’ll likely play all of the movies on Twitch again in celebration. 

We know that Build-A-Bear will have some showing, likely a special anniversary Pikachu or something (probably silver). General Mills will have a cereal, maybe with some sort of promo cards in it (they did it before). Note: this came true before the article could even be published! My favorite weird one is that Levi’s is on the list, meaning we’re going to see some Pokémon-themed jeans.

I feel like all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. They could come out the gate with a whole new game announcement that, as they like to do, subverts all of our expectations. Who knows.

The Other Things: The please-just-go-home-and-end-this prediction

Alright, it’s time to finish up with some wild speculation, entirely ingrained in a fantasy world created by an unhinged Pokémon Professor. I’ve seen rumors of a mega collection that brings a bunch of the old games onto the Switch. Let’s play this one smart and say that they’ll all be the remakes for Gen 1, 2, and 3. That can come out in 2021. Then, we see a remake of Gen 4 (of course) as that obvious standalone title in either 2021 or 2022. Then, we get Gen 5, 6, and 7 as a Mega collection II the next year. You heard it here first, from a mad man. Then, we can get them to bring the Pokémon Colosseum games to the Switch after.

Since we’re talking final tidbits, let’s talk about live-action movies. I think the Detective Pikachu movie did a great job, told an entire story from beginning to end, and set up a realistic world. Let’s give it a sequel next. Instead of focusing on Detective Pikachu or those characters, let’s set up a story loosely based on the games. I’d be alright if we started with Red and Blue, but it’d be excellent to tell other stories set in a previously explored region. Let’s do that. 2021 or 2022, Pokémon live action sequel. 

Of course, take anything I’ve said across this series with the grainiest of grains of salt. I’m just a simple, unhinged Pokémon fanatic talking from well over two decades of experience. Despite me being a Pokémon Professor, unless it’s already confirmed, nothing here is scientific. Even my realistic itemizations can be vastly wrong. But, we can hope! And if I get anything right, I hope for all of the high fives from you people. Leave your own thoughts below or share them in the PokéJungle Discord server.

Don’t forget to enter our January Brock TCG set giveaway by the 31st!