Guillermo del Totoro is the touching result of a child actress’ pronunciation hurdles.
Between his collaborations with video game creator Hideo Kojima and the obvious Neon Genesis Evangelion thematic and visual inspirations in Pacific Rim, it’s clear that film director Guillermo del Toro is a pretty avid fan of Japanese entertainment media. So when Japanese child actress Mana Ashida came up with a nickname for him while filming Pacific Rim, the acclaimed filmmaker was probably grinning from ear to ear at her choice.
Ashida, who was only nine years old at the time of Pacific Rim’s release, plays the childhood version of character Mako, (who’s portrayed as an adult by Rinko Kikuchi). In her on-set interactions with the director she was having trouble pronouncing “del Toro” and asked if she could instead call him by a name she had more experience pronouncing: Totoro, the star of beloved Studio Ghibli anime My Neighbor Totoro.
The director said sure, and while the adorable agreement actually took place years ago, it’s only recently become public knowledge (and has been confirmed by del Toro himself). The story is now out there, though, and so, of course, is the fan art of Guillermo del Totoro!
Enrique Robles (@DraftDesigner) August 23, 2017
Another one! https://t.co/W2agPaIOPN—
Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) April 28, 2016
Not just fans, but del Toro himself are thrilled by the illustrative crossovers, with the director retweeting his favorites. Many even include Ashida, dressed in a coat evocative of the one she wears in her big Pacific Rim scene.
(@blauereiter) March 05, 2016
Eduardo Marin (@Ed_Marin) August 23, 2017
▼ Oddly enough the Japanese text says “Pacific Rim,” not “Studio Jaeger.”
Thank You- keep making these! Love the chibi Gipsy Danger. https://t.co/Atx7v6iTH2—
Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) April 29, 2016
Guillermo del Totoro is actually a pretty flexible motif, as you can either apply del Toro’s traits to Totoro…
Guillermo del Totoro https://t.co/1bJqjGnCQW—
Nick (@NickJWinn) February 04, 2017
…or give Totoro’s mannerisms and poses to del Toro.
diegopo (@DiegoTeEfe) May 14, 2016
And while del Toro’s pantheon may not be quite as iconic as Ghibli’s, he’s still helmed films with plenty of memorable characters, inspiring artists to include references from Pacific Rim, Hellboy, and Pan’s Labyrinth.
(@Rorriberto) July 12, 2017
Gonzalouch Ikari (@GonzalouchIkari) August 24, 2017
Escribe Cine A.C. (@EscribeCine) May 28, 2016
Unlike his nickname’s namesake, there’s no record of del Toro giving Ashida a magic bag of seeds or a magic flight through the sky on a spinning top. Videos of the pair from the Pacific Rim set shows that the director has a heart as soft as Totoro’s inviting tummy.
o guillermo del toro é o próprio totoro da vida real https://t.co/3K11CYJo9E—
pétric (@patriqqq) July 18, 2017
9 de Octubre, cumpleaños de uno de mis directores favoritos de la vida: Guillermo del Totoro! https://t.co/hwxAHHOW6y—
Cata Marín (@kitcatmarin) October 10, 2016
Making the story sweeter still is that My Neighbor Totoro is a film that left a profound impression on del Toro. “As a young adult I saw “My Neighbor Totoro” and it moved me to tears,” he recalls. “I mean, I basically couldn’t stop crying at the beauty and the enormous feat of capturing the innocence of being a child. I immediately chased down everything [director Hayao Miyazaki] had done.”
Guillermo del Totoro may not move anyone to tears, but it’s certainly causing plenty of smiles.