Shared Worlds: Totoro versus Moomins

Many at the Shared Worlds teen SF/F writing camp here at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, know about Totoro but not as many know about the Moomins. So I have created this handy and totally arbitrary guide that compares and contrasts them. – JV


Totoro is a giant creature featured in the movie My Neighbor Totoro. It can fly but sometimes likes to just stand by a bus stop so it can use unusual forms of public transit.

…or sometimes it just is a person in a sweaty mascot outfit waiting for a real bus.

THIS…is wrong. Very wrong.

Meanwhile, the Moomins are a family of large hippo-like trolls created by author Tove Jansson and written about in comics and books.

People in Moomin costumes aren’t often seen waiting at bus stops.


Totoro seems to be happy enough to be around people, but that stare indicates Totoro would also be fine without them. Totoro seems to have friends, but not a whole lot of them.

Moomins have their family and friends and a lot of other people and animals that interact with them. If you sat down with a Moomin you might get a slice of berry pie. If you sat down with Totoro, he might give you a scary but exciting ride through the night sky….but you wouldn’t get any pie, just some stray acorns from between his toes. Totoro doesn’t appear to know how to cook…or care at all about cooking.

Moomin are deceptively cute…which means they tend to be very wise and if you are hoodwinked by their cute factor you might miss the wisdom. (Well, okay, sometimes Moominpappa isn’t so wise.) Honestly, I wouldn’t play cards with Moominmamma, either.

Sometimes, you get the sense that Totoro might be hiding a little bit of a temper…

Angry Moomins are rare, but because of that fact angering a Moomin doesn’t seem like a good idea. If you anger a Moomin, you would probably get punished within the confines of the law, and have a fair trial, because that’s what the Moomins would approve of. But that Moomin would make darn sure he or she had an iron-bound case against you and your ass would be in jail for a long time for whatever offense you had committed.

angry moomin

Many have wondered what would happen if Totoro and Moomins came into conflict. (Well, okay, just me.) These fingers found randomly on the internet indicate Moomins might at first be outnumbered.

This photo indicates that Totoro might spawn dozens of tasty Cupcake Totoros to infiltrate Moomin territory…

This might lead the Moomins, especially given Totoro’s superiority in the air, to temporarily retreat via boat to a remote island with a lighthouse.

But this photo reveals that the Moomins eventually would counter with an army of cardboard robots built out of hundreds of discarded whisky boxes.

The Moomins would also find a way to unleash their reluctant secret weapon The Groke…

…before inviting Totoro over for tea so that the Moomins could talk some sense into Totoro.

…or attempt to cook him (in a respectful way)….

…which would only infuriate Totoro and his allies and lead to more bad blood.

…like this propaganda film created by Totoro wishing ill-will toward Moomins, deliberately spelling their name wrong, too.

Regardless of how this conflict made up in my head turns out, one thing is for sure: they both look good on a t-shirt!

20 comments on “Shared Worlds: Totoro versus Moomins


  2. BEST POST EVER. Now my life is incomplete until such time as I can make the Totoro-shaped rice platter.

  3. I’ve had a hard time explaining moomintrolls to friends. I’m going to send them to this excellent resource.

  4. I just love this. I’m a huge fan both of Totoro and of the Moomin books, though I actually met the Moomins first.

  5. I adore this entire post. TOTOROOOO.

  6. GabrielM says:

    My daughters are going to love this post….

    Gabriel M

  7. Karin says:

    The McD’s Totoro…. what is seen cannot be unseeeeeen!!!!

    I love Totoro.

  8. Hannu Blommila says:

    Without the Moomins and Tototoro, the world would be a just little darker place…

  9. Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo says:

    Jeff, this is adorable BUT I think you’re seriously underestimating the angry Moomins! After all, they have been jailbreakers, smugglers, time travelers, even tried drugs (in the original comics), Snufkin rebels against authorities all the time, Moominpappa is friends with both the electric alien hattifatteners and Stinky, and even little My is known to have sharp teeth!

  10. jeff vandermeer says:

    shhhh…i am trying to lure the totoro closer… (part 2 post will address smuggling)

  11. Great post.

    For my wife’s birthday, I commissioned Andrew Goldfarb (one of our favorite artists/musicians/writers) to do a velvet painting of a Moomin. She received it a few weeks ago and nearly died. It’s quite a good (and velvety) Moomin.

  12. Julia Ferehawk says:

    Well, I hope my Jasper was not one of those SWers claiming Moomin-ignorance. Our shelves are well stocked with the Moomin books and I think he may have actually had moomin jammies as a baby. I also have a Little My plush doll on my desk as I write…

  13. jeff vandermeer says:

    Julia: Oh heck no! He and a couple of others were quite vocal. But I will not rest until they all know Moomins! JeffV

  14. Kate says:

    Is this in any way inspired by Nnedi proclaiming her love for my Totoro and then distractedly talking about Moomins for some time?

  15. jeff vandermeer says:


  16. Heehee!! I LOVE this! I’m absolutely delighted and giggly and….*GRIN*! And guess how I found this post? Googling Totoro and Moomins. LOL!!

  17. JGStewart says:

    I read all the Moomin books growing up. My mom made me a stuffed Moomin. My house is full of assorted Moomin paraphernalia. In short, I love Moomins.

    Or at least I did, until I saw the trailer for Moomins and the Comet Chase, whose voice cast includes Mads Mikkelsen as Sniff.

    Let me repeat: Mads Mikkelsen as Sniff.

    I haven’t slept since.


  18. Tracy says:

    Moomins FTW!

  19. This post made me laugh and left md a bit confused. I’ve never heard of either of these. Guess I’ll be on google for a little while today.

Comments are closed.