To Toa (TOTO) means “to crawl” in Swahili. The name originated when a young Toa was killed and dragged behind a cart in an African game park. The hunter thought the small, weakly-willed Toa was fit for death and dragged him behind his cart. Later, other hunters saw the lifeless Toa and assumed that he was also dead. When they searched for the “crime,” Toa had already moved on to a far more comfortable new life as a pet.
Toto (also known as Toto) became so popular that he was soon trained by Singaporean circus artists and was brought to live at the Druryu Park in Kranji. Known for his strong dancing skills and bright colored costume, Toto’s repertoire included shows such as juggling and singing. He quickly became a superstar and was seen by many as the most graceful and charming gorilla of all time. He appeared regularly on Singapore television, and in addition to performing in shows, he appeared in a number of movies, frequently in the starring role. After several decades, Toto the Singing Gorilla grew to a large, robust male figure and was trained by the famous Sumo wrestler, Sumo Tanabani.
Eventually, Toto the Singing Gorilla changed his name to Toto and retired to the Philippines. However, he would always be remembered in Singapore as the main character of the hit movie, King Kong (either Llanos or Kong, depending on the stage show). A. Maria Hoyt became the director and script writer for this movie, which was first screened in British Film Institute and later won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. The success of King Kong led to more animated films such as Shrek (produced by DreamWorks Animation), Madagascar (produced by Disney), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (produced by Fox) and Tarzan (produced by Universal Pictures). All these films improved Toto’s reputation and gave him an even larger fan base in the East.
In the Japanese film, The Tin Man, written and directed by Hayashi Takashi, toto first appeared as the main character, a Chinese dwarf who lives in an underground home with his wife and daughter. Although not entirely human in appearance, toto is a powerful warrior who resembles the great warrior Conan. The Tin Man first appears dressed in a turtleneck, a white shirt and jeans, covered by a brightly colored, straw hat. To top off his ridiculous outfit, Tooba is covered in a bright green skin suit, which makes her resemble the witch from the Wizard of Oz.
The success of the Tin Man and the subsequent books led to other tools, such as Tintin and Toto. However, when Harry Potter released, the popularity of Toontoon characters waned. Nevertheless, they have remained popular through the years, mostly as background players in live action films and cartoons. They also appear in various comic books. While the Tin Man always appeared as a major supporting character in most movies, the Toto characters gained prominence as well.
Aside from being an important character in Japanese horror films, Japanese literature and especially the works of Honda Shinichi, Toontoo has created several successful anime series, including the popular Hatarake wa Akkoi-retsuge (The Princess of the Rings) and Big Hero 6. One interesting fact about Toontoo is that its main illustrator is the legendary artist Takeshi Furutan. Furutan is best known for his works such as Nausica — Mothers — and Hellsing. He has also illustrated Hello Kitty, the Japanese cartoon series.