Cottagecore is an internet aesthetic that romanticizes a rural way of living. Think of cozy cottages, home-grown herbs, vines growing on a trellis, home-baked bread, traditional crafts, and an overabundance of plants and you got the images of what cottagecore looks like.
The word was coined in 2018 but has trended in 2020 much more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, who wouldn’t wish to quarantine in an adorable little cottage surrounded by flowers instead of a plain 3rd-floor apartment?
Even before cottagecore was really a thing, certain branches of the movie industry have profited from this idealization. These movies make viewers feel a yearning to experience the outdoors and revel in simplicity. A company that has done this greatly is Japan’s Studio Ghibli, which is famous for its anime feature films. Their movies are well known for their messages of environmentalism and whimsical aesthetics. As of 2020, their movies are also becoming well-known for their fine examples of the cottagecore aesthetic.
10.From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)
This movie tells the story of a high school girl, Umi, and her life in a boarding house. She forms a relationship with a member of the school’s newspaper club and they clean up the clubhouse and end up having to save it from being demolished.
Like most Studio Ghibli movies, this title won numerous awards and tons of praise. However, it is not one of their most well-known works. Next to that, it lacks the cottagecore aesthetic. While gentle and nostalgic, it does not dive into the cozy cottages and natural world like many of the other films.
This creative fantasy story is about a goldfish that wishes to be a human girl. The setting is a seaside town that is loosely based on a real town in Japan, Tomonoura.
Due to its setting and story, it has little room for cottagecore. The story is set in a town and the main establishment is cute but not exactly a whimsical cottage (at least in comparison to other Studio Ghibli places). The aesthetics focus more on the sea than plants.
8. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Princess Mononoke is one of Studio Ghibli’s most famous movies. The center conflict of the film is between humans and the gods of the forest over resources. Part of what made the film such a success was its environmental message without falling into being preachy like so many other movies that try to boost a similar message.
In terms of cottagecore, the movie is a mixed bag. It is heavy on the natural world but lacking in the human touch. Where there is a lot of humanity, the nature is lacking. The two do not really mix in this movie, which makes sense since they are at war with each other.
7. The Cat Returns (2002)
This movie is about a girl, Haru, who gets kidnapped to the Cat Kingdom and forced to marry a cat prince. The beginning of the film takes place in modern Japan, but the Cat Kingdom itself has a bit of cottagecore going on. The kingdom is in the middle of rolling hills and fields of grass. The palace itself is less cottagecore though.
While the Baron’s household is cozy, it is also quite lacking in plants.
6. Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away sits next to Princess Mononoke as one of Studio Ghibli’s most well-known works. It is a coming of age movie that focuses on a young girl, Chihiro, getting stuck in the spirit world and being committed to servitude in a bathhouse to pay back a debt her parents racked up by unknowingly eating food from the spirit world.
The bathhouse itself is the center location of the movie and is not quite cottagecore. However, there is a part where Chihiro visits Zeniba’s cottage. Zeniba’s cottage is pretty suitable to call cottagecore. She has many herbs and handicrafts inside her home which is on isolated farmland.
5. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Loosely based on the book of the same name, this movie follows a girl who was cursed to be an old woman. In search of a cure, she decides to serve as a maid for the wizard Howl. As the title describes, his castle moves. The cottagecore is not shown in the castle though. Audiences get to see a fine example of cottagecore when Howl shows Sophie where he studied as a child.
Howl studied in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere in a field of wildflowers.
4. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
This movie is one that really put Studio Ghibli on the map. The creature, Totoro, is comparable to Mickey Mouse in terms of cultural legacy and relevance. The story is about a family that moves into a rural area to be closer to a hospital where their mother is recovering at.
The countryside is beautiful and the movie gives the house and the nature around it a feeling of whimsy and magical possibilities.
3. When Marnie Was There (2014)
This movie is more cottagecore just based on plot. The main character, Anna, suffers an asthma attack due to stress so she goes to a rural area where there is cleaner air for her summer break.
Where the cottagecore really shines is in the abandoned mansion, that Anna explores, the home she stays in, as well as the surrounding wetlands. The wetlands are gorgeous with moss, ferns, and mushrooms to forge for. The house she stays at is surrounded by cozy groups of hanging plants and herbs.
2. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Cottagecore is popular among those who love witches and magic. After all, a witch is often living in a cottage and has to use resources from nature for their rituals and crafts. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Kiki’s Delivery Service is one of Studio Ghibli’s more cottagecore films. The story follows a young witch named Kiki.
Kiki’s own mother is a herbal healer, and their home looks like one out of an enchanted fairytale. It is filled with plants both inside and out.
1. The Secret World Of Arrietty (2010)
Studio Ghibli’s most cottagecore film of all is The Secret World of Arrietty. It is based on a novel called The Borrowers and centers on a family of tiny humans who have to borrow items from large humans to survive.
This movie is maximum cottagecore both in the small world of Arrietty and the larger world around her. Every scene of Arreitty’s family home is full of detail in the plants and crafts. Outside are fields of wildflowers and lush grass.