Interview with Grass-Sider, Ultra Local Hero
by reporter Joel Dechant for Fukuoka Now
In this age of uncertainty, we can all use a little extra peace of mind, especially regarding the safety of our children. That’s why I was pleased to learn that my kids’ school, Kusagae Elementary School (Kusagae, Chuo-ku), has its own superhero: Grass-Sider. I met with Grass-Sider and his interlocutor, Oyaji-Gumi (Dad’s Club) chairman Nagai-san, to learn a little more about this mysterious green hero.
Joel Dechant: Grass-Sider, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me.
Nagai: Actually, Grass-Sider doesn’t talk, but I think we can make an exception for this interview.
JD: Thanks. My kids told me he doesn’t talk. Can you tell us what the name “Grass-Sider” means?
GS: First of all, “Grass” is from kusa in Kusagae. “Sider” comes from the fact that the school is located on a riverside.
JD: Grass-Sider, when did you start your superhero work?
GS: Grass-Sider arose spontaneously in October 2012, but the idea for a school hero had been floating around for about five years.
JD: What is your mission?
GS: To make children smile.
JD: What kind of duties do you perform?
GS: I make appearances at school events, like graduation and entrance ceremonies, and serve as a crossing guard on the first of every month.
JD: Where do you perform your duties?
GS: I only work within the Kusagae School District. In fact, I lose power if I leave the area, so you’ll only find me at the elementary school and the local nursery schools.
JD: Do you have any special powers?
GS: I am working on something I call the Grass Relax Beam. I also have a special pose. If you look closely, the design on my gloves is a child’s smile, and my belt is a handshake.
JD: Where do you get your powers?
GS: From the kids and the community.
JD: Who are your enemies?
GS: I never fight in front of the children, but I have one enemy, Skullman from the Mad Empire. His only appearance was at an adults’ gathering, though.
JD: We’ve never seen Grass-Sider in a manga. Why?
GS: As I said, I arose spontaneously. But I am thinking of starting a YouTube channel.
JD: Are you married, or do you have a girlfriend?
GS: No comment.
JD: What’s your favorite food?
GS: I am not a picky eater, but I have to make sure I can fit in my superhero suit.
JD: You’ve gained a lot of media attention lately. Is it hard to be a superhero in Fukuoka?
GS: Not really because I only work in the Kusagae School District. I am not gunning for the big time like Kumamon. I really just want all of the people in the school district to be happy. That being said, I’m a little concerned about doing crossing guard duties in the summer heat.
JD: Do you have any superhero friends?
GS: Not in the school district, but I recently made the acquaintance of Bohando Zed, the safety mascot of Minamikatae Elementary School. It would be nice to see more school district superheroes in the future.
JD: What kind of support does the school give you?
GS: The school approves of Grass-Sider 100%. In fact, Principal Ogusu used to be a stuntman for Japan Action Club. He played bad guys on shows like Masked Rider and Android Kikaider.
JD: Will the Hawks win this year?
GS: As I superhero, I cannot align myself with any one team, but I hope they do well.
JD: Can you give one final comment for our readers?
GS: If you’re ever in the Kusagae area, please come and visit me. You can also follow me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/grasssaider).
My next appearance will be at the Gokoku Shrine Flea Market on 5/19, 14:00 – 15:00.
Interviewing a superhero is hard work, so after I parted ways with Grass-Sider, I stopped by Chrono Café (2-13-5 Ropponmatsu, Chuo-ku, Tel: 092-713-3599) to sample the Grass-Sider Cocktail. Chrono is one of several local restaurants that have shown their support for Grass-Sider by creating special menu items.
Interview and text by Joel Dechant for Fukuoka Now (May 2013).
Photos used with permission from http://www.facebook.com/grasssaider.