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Music / The Pillows

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Left to Right: Yoshiaki Manabe, Sawao Yamanaka, and Shinichiro Sato

The Pillows (often written as the pillows) are a Japanese Alternative Rock/Power Pop band that was formed in 1989 by Kenji Ueda (bassist), Sawao Yamanaka (vocalist), Shinichiro Sato (drummer), and Yoshiaki Manabe (guitarist), though Ueda left the band around 1992 due to musical differences. His absence is noted by the band as all of the bassist replacements are credited as supporting members out of respect for their former member. Jun Suzuki is the current bassist. Due to their long careers, they have a huge number of albums, singles, and EPs under their belt.

They are best known for their heavily American/British influenced style of songwriting, which greatly contrasts in an industry saturated with the same-old j-pop sound. It is for this reason that they're quite popular in Japan and have since spawned many imitators. Their style somewhat resembles that of a Lighter and Softer The Pixies - they even have a song named "Kim Deal", after the ex-Pixies bassist.


Outside of Japan, they are best known for the inclusion of their music in FLCL, as Studio Gainax licensed three of their albums up to that point for almost the entire anime's soundtrack. Several songs from it such as I think I can, LITTLE BUSTERS, and Ride on shooting star are very popular because of this. During the lead-up to the premiere of FLCL Progressive And Alternative in 2018, Yamanaka revealed that the band had initially resisted allowing their music to be used in any such way, even going so far as to half-heartedly try to dissaude the creators interest by giving them Ride on shooting star as a sample track instead of the song ("ONE LIFE") they'd requested. Ironically, director Kazuya Tsurumaki loved the song so much he designed a new ending sequence for it, and when the band saw the result, they decided that maybe there was something to it after all . One of their singles, Ladybird Girl, was used as the theme song for the Japanese dub of Ben 10, created Rodeo Star Mate as the theme song for Stitch!, Japan's incarnation of Lilo & Stitch, and used Comic Sonic for the ending theme of Sket Dance.


Recently they were hired to compose the soundtrack for the revival of the FLCL series, FLCL Progressive & Alternative, including new singles like Star overhead and spiky seeds, which served as the theme songs for both seasons.

The first two albums were contracted under Pony Canyon before Ueda left, the rest after that until Good Dreams were under the label King Records. They are currently under Avex Trax.

  • Moon Gold (1991)
  • White Incarnation (1992)
  • Kool Spice (1994)
  • Living Field (1995)
  • Please Mr. Lostman (1997)
  • Little Busters (1998)
  • Runners High (1999)
  • Happy Bivouac (1999)
  • Smile (2001)
  • Thank You, My Twilight (2002)
  • Penalty Life (2003)
  • Good Dreams (2004)
  • My Foot (2006)
  • Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! (2007)
  • Pied Piper (2008)
  • OoParts (Out of Place Artifacts) (2009)
  • HORN AGAIN (2011)
  • Trial (2012)
  • MOONDUST (2014)
  • STROLL AND ROLL (2016)
  • Nook In The Brain (2017)
  • REBROADCAST (2018)


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