Japanese superhero fights grime instead of crime

Tokyo's own caped crusader, Mangetsu-man, wants citizens to join him in his quest to save the city from litter and garbage.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton

Who needs Robin when Mangetsu-man has little kids to help clean up the city? Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Armed with a broom, dust pan and the sudden urge to clean, Japan's latest superhero wants to keep Tokyo garbage-free. Mangetsu-man -- translated as Mr. Full Moon -- visits the Nihonbashi business district to encourage citizens to join him in his quest for cleanliness.

Wearing a giant yellow foam head, purple tights and leotard, along with a purple and red cape, this superhero resembles the Jack-in-the-Box fast food mascot more than Batman, and his adventures involve picking up trash rather than fighting villains.

Just as all superheroes do, Mangetsu-man is keeping his real identity under wraps and only answers questions using his smartphone's voice software.

"Cleaning isn't just about making something dirty clean," he told Reuters via a computer-generated voice from his smartphone. "It's about staying clean. So it's about keeping one's heart clean as well. So if more people around the world clean up then I believe that there will be less negative news. I want to clean up all the negativity in the world through the power of cleaning."

Mangetsu-man has become a bit of a local celebrity around Tokyo, and he's already gained a group of volunteers who show up when he's around to help clean.

"Unlike other heroes I don't have any special powers or weapons," he told Reuters. "All I have is my broom and dust pan. But I want to prove that I can help bring peace to the work through the power of cleaning."