Totoro Facts

Fact #1: The name 'Totoro' comes from 'troll'

Where does the name Totoro come from? The word Totoro simply comes from the word troll.

You are wondering how come? Sure it looks similar but why? The word Totoro is created by Mei, a 4 years old girl who still mixes up some letters. For example, some kids say ‘gogurt’ instead of ‘yogurt’. Mei heard about the word ‘troll’ for the first time when her mom is reading a book to her and her sister. At the end of the movie, we can see the mom holding a book with a goat and a troll.

Three Billy Goats Gruff

The title is ‘三匹の山羊’ which is in fact Three Billy Goats Gruff. This story is from Norway, published between 1841 and 1844:

The story introduces three male goats […] there is no grass left for them to eat near where they live, so they must cross a river to get to a “sæter” (a meadow) or hillside on the other side of a stream in order to eat and get fat. To do so, they must first cross a bridge, under which lives a fearsome troll who eats anyone who passes that way.

Source: wikipedia

When Mei met Totoro for the first time, Totoro yawned and this sound made Mei to think about ‘troll’, however, ‘troll’ is probably not a current word in Japan especially for a 4 years old kid, and so she mistakenly said Totoro.

In Japanese, troll is pronounced to-ro-ru (トロール), which is close to to-to-ro (トトロ).

Transcript of the Japanese version

When Mei met Totoro for the first time:

メイ: あなたは だれ? まっくろくろすけ?
トトロ: トオー、トオー、ブロロローー
メイ: トトロ! あなた、トトロって いうのね。
ととろ: トオー、トオー、ブロー
メイ: やっぱり トトロね。トトロ

My translation:

Mei: who are you?
Totoro: To-, to-, broooo
Mei: Totoro! You are Totoro!
Totoro: To-, to-, broo
Mei: You are really Totoro!

And then later when Satsuki found Mei sleeping:

メイ: トトロは
さつき: トトロ?
メイ: あれ? あれ?
さつき: ゆめみてたの?
メイ: トトロ いたんだよ
さつき: 「トトロ」って えほんに でてた 「トロル」の こと?

My translation:

Mei: It was Totoro?
Satsuki: Totoro?
Mei: hum…
Satsuki: Did you dream?
Mei: It was really Totoro!
Satsuki: Do you mean “troll” like in the picture book?

Transcript of the English version

The transcript for the English version is a little bit different. When Mei met Totoro for the first time:

Mei: Hey.
Mei: Tell me who you are. Are you a big dust bunny?
Totoro: To Ro Ro.
Mei: Waaaaah!
Totoro: To Ro Ro.
Mei: Totoro? That’s it! I bet you’re name’s Totoro., isn’t it.
Totoro: Ro.
Mei: So you’re really a Totoro.
Mei: Totoro.

And then later when Satsuki found Mei sleeping:

Mei: A big Totoro was here with me.
Satsuki: You don’t mean a big one like what’s in our picture books, do you?