The Wonderful World of Moomins

By Megan Lanham

mrlanham@lc.edu

 

First things first, I bet you’re asking yourself, “what the heck is a ‘Moomin?’” Moomins, or rather the Moomins, are the central characters in a series of children’s fantasy books and a comic strip by Finnish illustrator, Tove Jansson, which was a property originally published in Swedish by Schildts in Finland. They are a family of white, round, fairy tale characters with large snouts that make them resemble hippopotamuses. Though, I wouldn’t call them as such, as they would be offended, despite the resemblance.

The Moomin family are trolls consisting of Moomintroll or just Moomin. The main protagonists are the little boy of the family, as well as Moomin’s parents Moominpapa, and Moominmama. Moominpappa is a somewhat restless spirit. He was orphaned at a young age and ventured out in his youth. Though he has now settled down, instead opting to write his adventures in his memoirs. Moominmama is a calm mother who takes care of Moominhouse and makes sure it is a safe place to be. She simply wants everyone to be happy, encourages independence, but will come to help settle things if something goes wrong. 

The family live in their house in Moominvalley, though in the past their more short-term residences have included a lighthouse and theatre. They have had many adventures alongside their various friends such as Little My, Snufkin Snork Maiden, and Sniff. In total, nine books were released in the series, together with five picture books and a comic strip being released between 1945 and 1993

The Moomins have been the basis for numerous television series, films, and even a theme park called Moomin World in Naantali, Finland. It is an internationally beloved franchise and a household name across the world, in countries such as Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, and even Japan. However, up until recently, The Moomins had fallen under the radar within North America.

Starting from 2019 with the newest adaptation, Finnish and British-Produced TV Series Moominvalley, it has been gaining traction. Particularly, on social media, there has been a buzz from western audiences. I can’t count how many times I’ve scrolled through Tumblr or Twitter and have found fanart of the critters of Moominvalley. The most popular of which being the characters of Moomin and Snufkin. 

Creating is not the only thing people are doing. They are also discovering the rich history of Moomins and their author, as the two are intimately intertwined with each other. With how personal Moomins was to Tove Jansson, many aspects, views, and even characters are based off of feelings and people within her life that are surprisingly modern. This has allowed western audiences to connect with the franchise and even Tove herself, even though both are almost a century old. 

The official Moomins channel has released the full 90s Japanese adaption of Moomin or Tanoshii Mūmin Ikka, which is arguably the best adaptations amongst fans. This particular series has served as a gateway to the world of Moomin Valley and its characters to many newer viewers. Now, more so than ever with the pandemic of 2020, it has provided a means of escape and relaxation.

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