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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.

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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."