The love for fumos is truly universal. An interview with custom fumo creator and video maker Yumemey
Video producer and custom fumo maker Yumemey.
Her hand-made custom fumo videos have spread fumo love throughout the Touhou fandom, and are enjoyed by many. Today we’ll be getting to know Yumemey, the person behind these works, and discussing their experiences in the Touhou fandom as a fumo creator and video maker.
Getting to know Yumemey
— Hello there, Yumemey. It’s a pleasure to meet you today for this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself and tell us a bit about your activities?
Yumemey: For sure! Hi, I’m Yumemey, I’ve been doing things revolving around Touhou plushies since 2017, including plushie making, plushie photos and videos. Nice to meet you.
— I am Oborochi, the communications person for Garakuta EN. I am a big fan of fumos and have created some guides which cover purchasing methods. Other than that, I like to talk with other fumo creators around the world and enjoy Touhou a lot.
Yumemey: Awesome! I also love Touhou, thank you so much for having me here!
— Thank you as well. First, I would like to ask, how did you discover Touhou? And what is it that you like about the series?
Yumemey: I got into Touhou around the release of Touhou 14. I had brief encounters with it before, but got fully invested after hearing doujin music from a Dota 2 stream, of all places (yeah, seriously), and quickly became more and more interested in the series and the insane amount of dedicated fan works.
As for what I like most about the series, it’s definitely the characters – from the way they are presented with their own musical themes, the very memorable designs/concepts, and the pairings and interactions between them. I remember back then, Mokou, Okuu and Sekibanki were just a few of the characters that really stuck out to me. I now have plushies for all of them. Of course, Shion is my favourite character!
Understanding what ‘fumos’ are?
— Alright then. A lot of people have probably been wondering about this, but what even are fumos? What’s so appealing about them? Would you like to explain more about them?
Yumemey: If I had to describe them – fumos are cute, smug, cool and cute plushie versions of Touhou characters. Almost all of the most popular Touhou characters have a fumo version of them, and many creators have made customized versions of characters that do not.
As for their appeal – I think that can be attributed to a variety of reasons. They are some of the most popular and well-known Touhou merchandise – having a plushie version of your #1 favorite Touhou character is something any fan would want. But even if you’re not that familiar with Touhou Project, everyone can appreciate how cute, silly, and photogenic they are. (Also, they are very bouncy.)
FumoFumo Mokou v1.0 A type of Fumo variant sold by Gift (cited from Gift http://giftshop.jz.shopserve.jp/)
— What’s the difference between fumos and regular plushies?
Yumemey: Fumos are of course plushies – design wise, they are quite well made and can sit up on their own, which makes them display well in very many situations. But I would say that they stand out the most due to their association with Touhou. With all the unique abilities, characteristics and relationships of Touhou characters, it’s very easy to place fumos in situations that in a sense, bring Touhou into real life, which may be a reason for their popularity.
— You’ve mentioned quite a lot about fumo popularity. Do you know how fumos boomed in the intentional scene? After all, I believe not many people knew about these plushies in the early 2010’s?
Yumemey: Fumos have actually been quite popular in Japan for a while and were quite famous in the western Touhou community as well. But I think a lot to do with their recent boom has to do with a few things – It seems Touhou has become incredibly popular in the past year, so the number of people interested in fumos of their favorite characters may have also risen a fair bit.
There are now many guides for purchasing fumos, so it has become easier than ever for people to get them from Gift rather than second-hand resellers. And of course, people creating and enjoying cute content featuring fumos has definitely made them more well-known.
About Yumemey’s fumo creation
— Speaking of creating fumos, I know you’re one of the many custom and hand-made fumo creators out there. How did you find out about fumos? And what led you to craft hand-made ones?
Yumemey: I had first heard about fumos from Touhou-related Discord servers and discovered the Japanese fumo Twitter scene, which made me want to have my own to put on my desk. I happened to buy my first fumo – a Kasen – from a store in Japan and was amazed by the quality and details. As many in the fumo community say, once you buy one fumo, you don’t just buy one fumo. (I proceeded to buy more fumos.)
As for hand-made plushies, I first started out being inspired by Japanese custom-fumo makers such as Putitomo (ぷちとも)* and Yoiyama (宵やま)*. I really loved the PC-98 Touhou character Yumemi Okazaki and wanted a fumo of her, but sadly I didn’t think she would be getting an official fumo any time soon, so I ended up making her myself. (extremely unrelated, but the name Yumemey is derived from Yumemi!)
Yumemey’s “Yumemy” fumo (from Touhou 3: Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream)
*Putitomo (ぷちとも): A Touhou custom fumo maker in Japan. They have created a variety of custom fumos spanning from characters in Touhou 6: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (EoSD) through Touhou 16: Hidden Star in Four Season (HSiFS).
*Yoiyama (宵やま): Another Touhou custom fumo creator in Japan. They mainly create PC98 variations of fumos (and have a great interest in said series).
It was a lot of fun and very rewarding to put together new custom plushies, and there were a lot more characters I was interested in making – like Shion, Joon, Nazrin, Mike, Momoyo and many more – so I’ve been working on improving my skills through more fumo projects ever since.
— What’s it like being a plushie maker? Have you done any kind of crafts/sewing before you started on fumos?
Yumemey: It’s very relaxing, even if some accessories have been quite difficult to put together at times. Seeing the plushie go from just an idea, to a drawn design, to a fully-equipped plushie really makes me feel like I made something cool. I have a lot of fun with the design aspect, like thinking about how to best portray a character. I actually didn’t have any experience with sewing before making my first custom, but I think I got better over time!
— How long does it take you to create custom fumos?
Yumemey: I work full time so I don’t have as much time to make fumos as I’d like. Though I usually aim for about a week to draw up a design and then put together a plushie, it depends on how complex the design is and how confident I am in putting them together.
Yumemey’s recent fumo creation: Momoyo Himemushi from Touhou 18: Unconnected Marketeers
— That’s interesting to hear. Is there anything else you would like to share in regards to your experiences?
Yumemey: Hmm… I’d say it’s been a big learning experience all the way. Even for very simple characters, I find myself learning new strategies and techniques for making plushies along the way. There’s always new ways to improve!
— Do you have any advice for people who want to make their own fumos?
Yumemey: If there’s a character you want as a fumo, who doesn’t have one officially made, make them! I would recommend using an official fumo as a base for your first custom – it’s unlikely to make any irreversible mistakes that way, and it’s a very popular way for making custom fumos.
— You’ve previously mentioned fumo communities. What’s it like being in a subculture for plushie making? Do you get to interact with a whole bunch of other people who have similar interests?
Yumemey: I would say that I’m probably most known for my fumo videos more so than plushie making, but over the years it’s been amazing to see what everybody puts together – from photos, customs, videos, adventures, illustrations, animations, games, and more, it’s been great to see the fumo community grow! I’ve met a lot of great and friendly people, and it makes me happy to see fumos have brought happiness to so many.
One of the various international fumo communities on Discord
— Do you find being such a prominent member of the fumo community challenging?
Yumemey: It can be at times. I’m a very shy person so it sometimes gets a bit uncomfortable interacting in places where a lot of people already know me for my fumos. It can be a bit overwhelming. Many people have different opinions about fumos from many good to some bad, so I can’t help but feel responsible for how fumos as a whole are viewed sometimes.
But overall, it always makes me really happy to hear people getting into fumos & even Touhou because of my content and saying it had a positive impact on them. That really motivates me to keep going :3
— I also believe that in recent years, there’s also been a rise in communication and collaboration between the international fumo community and the Japanese fumo community (even with language barriers). What do you think the reason is for these multiple communities getting along with each other?
Yumemey: As one of the many international people who has gone to Japanese fumo meetup events around Reitaisai and Comiket, I can say the Japanese fumo community as a whole has been really accepting of international fumo fans and it’s really amazing! It seems the love for fumos is truly universal, you don’t need to know any language to understand that they are cute.
A Japanese fumo discord server.
— Is being able to share something even without words why the two communities get along with one another?
Yumemey: It may be part of it! Both the Japanese and international communities have a shared love for Touhou and fumos.
An example of a “fumo meetup”
— How would you like to see these communities interact with each other in the future? And how do you want the international fumo community to proceed from here?
Yumemey: I’d like to see them keep doing what they’re doing and keep producing lots of comfy fumo content. I would love to see fumos go all around the world – on adventures visiting famous places, or even just vibing on peoples’ desks.
Yumemey’s fumo video creation:
— It’s interesting to hear about your fumo creations and the fumo community. But we haven’t talked about one important thing; your fumo videos. What made you decide to produce fumo related videos? And what’s so interesting about making said videos?
Yumemey: Well, I guess I really got into it when I discovered fumos could bounce! I had previously only done photographs, but after my Yuyuko started bouncing completely on her own I knew I wanted to make more video-form content to increase fumo cuteness even further.
As for what makes them so interesting to make – there are so many ways the funny plushies can move: from bouncing, spinning, nodding, dashing, floating, headbanging, pulling out knives, Sanae’s famous bap stick, and so much more. The possibilities for what they can do in fumo videos feel truly endless – it opens up so many more interactions between pairings of Touhou characters. I feel that they are the core of a huge portion of Touhou doujin content.
An example of Yumemey’s first Touhou fumo videos.
— What do you do to make these kinds of videos?
Yumemey: I usually think of a scenario with usually 2 or 3 Touhous, then they act out the scene in the cutest way possible.
— Is there any kind of special camera work and/or tricks to make these kinds of videos?
Yumemey: Usually it helps to have fewer characters in the same video – having too many makes it difficult to show the action.
— What about moving the fumos themselves? Is there a trick to make them move fluidly?
Yumemey: It comes mainly with practice for them to execute a certain set of actions with as smooth motions as possible, especially for more complicated scenes. I use a short storyboard to map out the actions the fumos will do – over time you kind of start to understand what fumo actions tend to look best.
— You’ve recently collaborated with Touhou LW. How did that get started? Were you in any other collaborations like this one previously?
Yumemey: I was reached out to by a representative from NextNinja/Good Smile Company – the company behind Touhou Lost Word – a while back and we discussed the collaboration further. I was mostly allowed to come up with the contents of the videos on my own to hype up the game. It was my first collaboration with a game! I was happy to see that the video did very well, and was even enjoyed by many people who knew nothing about Touhou.
Yumemey’s recent collaboration video with Touhou Lost Word
— Lastly, do you have any goals you want to reach with your fumo activities?
Yumemey: I’d love to keep continuing to raise the quality of my custom plushies and videos and overall expand the reach of Touhou and fumos! I think being able to work on an official collaboration with Touhou Lost Word has been very good for this!
— But anyways, thank you for responding to all those interview questions. I hope you’ve enjoyed talking about your experiences as one of the many fumo creators in the Touhou English speaking community.
Yumemey: You too! Thank you so much for the time, it was great talking with you as well about my fumo experiences!
Some other miscellaneous questions
— There’s been a lot of memes associated with your fumo videos. Did it affect your content creation in any way (or did you just create what you wanted without considering memes)? Do you have a favorite meme out of all the ones associated with your videos?
Yumemey: I tend to make my videos very short and snappy so that there is deliberate fumo action in every scene, which may lead to clips from my videos being used as memes! I usually don’t have memes in mind when making videos, but I do try to make each scene of a video memorable and entertaining on its own. I guess if common concepts in my videos are considered memes, fumo bouncing is my favorite. I think it’s one of the cutest things fumos can do!
An example of a Yumemey video which became a Touhou fumo meme
— How many fumos have you made so far?
Yumemey: I’ve made about 35 custom plushies fully from scratch since September of 2020.
The love for fumos is truly universal. An interview with custom fumo creator and video maker Yumemey End