A few weeks ago, a handful of motorists in Chiba Prefecture witnessed a sight few of us will ever be fortunate enough to see: a man dressed as Batman riding a customized trike, speeding down the expressway. Chibatman, as he soon came to be known, quickly caught the attention of not only comic fans around the world, but also the local police, who recently called the Caped Crusader in for a little chat.
Chibatman himself related the story to Yahoo! Japan News. Realizing that if there’s ever a time to pass on a cosplay opportunity, it’s when you’ve been summoned to the police station, the man showed up in the regular clothes he wears to his non-crime-fighting day job, but it seems his reputation had proceeded him. As soon as he checked in at the front desk, the receptionist replied, “Oh, you’re Batman, aren’t you?” and when he was called in for his interview, he was beckoned with, “Right this way, Batman.”
“I was led into what, based on how it looked, you could only describe as an interrogation room,” Chibatman recalls. “Waiting there was a detective in a suit and a representative from the Land Transport Bureau.”
Thankfully, the pair wasn’t there to arrest the superhero, nor did they want him to rough-up a maniacal clown while the lawmen looked the other way. Instead, they just wanted to talk, primarily about his self-customized vehicle which he’s dubbed the Chibatpod.
In light of its extensive modifications, the civil servants wanted to make sure Batman was aware of vehicle width regulations, and also to confirm that his cape is properly attached in a manner that ensures it won’t go flying off in the breeze and smother someone else’s windshield.
The Japanese Batman of course has Japanese manners, so as their talk came to a close, he apologized for any unwanted commotion he’d caused the police. As it turned out, though, the officials have a keen concept of fun and are refreshingly easygoing for people who can properly be called “the authorities.”
“You haven’t done anything wrong,” they cheerfully told Chibatman, before going so far as to encourage future appearances. “You’re going to keep doing this, right? If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact us any time.”
Given how much attention is being pointed Chibatman’s way, you may be surprised that he hasn’t made the rounds of Japan’s numerous talk shows yet. It’s not that producers aren’t trying, as the costumed rider says he’s been inundated with invitations. So far, though, he’s turned them down.
“The whole reason I’m doing this is because I want to make people smile when they see me on the road,” he explained. Really, we should have expected as much. For decades, Batman has suddenly appeared out of nowhere to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, so it’s only natural that Chibatman follow the same M.O. in putting a smile on everyone else’s face.
▼ So check your rearview mirror, because he could be right behind you, right now!