Alto Saotome (早乙女アルト Saotome Aruto) is the main protagonist of the Macross Frontier television series and the film adaptations The False Songstress and The Wings of Goodbye, along with Macross FB7 Galaxy Flow Soul: Listen to My Song!.
A rebellious and hot-tempered young man, he eventually realizes his dreams of flight after being recruited by Ozma Lee to join the private military company S.M.S.. He has a relationship with Sheryl Nome and Ranka Lee.
Personality & Character
Alto is a high school student enrolled at Mihoshi Academy who once moonlighted as a Kabuki actor, but dreams of becoming a full-fledged pilot. He is often jeered by his colleague for his effeminate appearance, earning him the nickname 'Hime-sama' or Princess. He wishes only to fulfill his dream of becoming a real pilot, and escape the low artificial gravity of the space colonies he's spent his whole life on. He has a rebellious streak, but a strong sense of justice and a compassionate personality. He is fairly indecisive when it comes to romance however, unable to choose between the affections of the beautiful Sheryl Nome and cute Ranka Lee.
One fateful day, Alto Saotome was with his classmates, Michael Blanc and Luca Angelloni at Mihoshi Academy, telling them of his dream to become a fighter pilot one day and fly in his EX-Gear through the skies in the real atmosphere of a planet instead of the artificial sky of the Macross Frontier space colony. As he wandered off into the nearby woods, he sees a young girl named Ranka Lee who had gotten lost while headed to the latest Sheryl Nome concert. Ranka mistakes Alto for a girl due to his long hair and effeminate appearance, which briefly angers him. He then escorts Ranka out of the forest. Shortly after, Alto and his classmates fly as backup performers at the same Sheryl Nome concert Ranka was previously going to. He prepares to perform his signature "corkscrew" maneuver but the ceiling is too low and he swoops down, accidentally picking up Sheryl whom continued singing, which impressed the audience, unaware that it was all unplanned.
A sudden attack by the Vajra prompts everyone to head for the evacuation centers. Fans at the concert struggle to escape through the main exit while Sheryl leaves elsewhere, angering Alto as he assumes she cares little for the well-being of her fans. Ranka escapes the concert hall only to be cornered by one of a Vajra Heavy Soldier. She sees variable fighter pilot Henry Gilliam killed before her very eyes, which leaves her in a catatonic state. Alto swoops in and commandeers his VF-25F Messiah, and repels the alien, thereby protecting Ranka from further harm.(F: "Cross Encounter")
As the battle rages, he meets Gilliam's superior, Ozma Lee (Ranka's guardian) and he tells Alto to take her to safety while he takes care of the Vajra. As they head away from the chaos, Alto learns Ranka's name, and are horrified as they walk through the damaged city. The next day at school, Catherine Glass escorts him to a military facility to extract samples of his blood because of his contact with the aliens. He sees Ozma Lee yet again, who takes him to his private military company, the S.M.S.. Alto is surprised to learn his friends, Michael and Luca were already members of S.M.S., who then asked him how their comrade died in battle. Soon after, another Vajra attack occurs. Alto demands wanting to help out but Ozma punches him in the gut and he leaves him. He leaves in pain, and eventually meets up with Sheryl in a park outside the city. She learns his name, and Sheryl, in a bit of spontaneity, yells it out.(F: "Hard Chase") Later, he learns from Ozma that Ranka suffered from post-traumatic stress after witnessing the Vajra attack due to some event in her past. We Then learn Alto is part of a family of Kabuki actors, but he was disowned by his father, Ranzō Saotome, as Alto wanted to become a pilot. His father instead picks his adopted son, Yasaburō Saotome to be his heir.
Now fully caught between a war with the Vajra, he is finally recruited by S.M.S., where he hopes to protect the people he cares about.(F: "On Your Marks") Meanwhile, Ranka recovers and promptly joins the Miss Macross Frontier beauty contest, which helps push her to pursue a singing career. Alto is then forced to watch over Sheryl, and the two have a few outings that help build their growing friendship. Ranka, Alto and Sheryl are soon cast on the film Legend of Zero, where Alto plays a stunt-double. While filming, Alto starts to develop feelings for Ranka. They encounter a deadly Hydra creature but are rescued by the mysterious Brera Sterne. Brera then follows the crew back to their school at Mihoshi Academy where they wonder what his deal was. Ranka's career takes off shortly after, and is soon used by the military to help wage war against the Vajra. This upset Ranka, despite the S.M.S. crew saying that they remind her of the legendary Lynn Minmay and Basara Nekki.
After a particularly nasty mission on Gallia 4, Alto becomes more and more jaded and soon, Leon Mishima enacts his coup, which leaves President Howard Glass dead. Leon then tries using Ranka to sing in a memorial service, but Ranka refuses and leaves with Brera to search for the Vajra homeworld. Alto, concerned for Sheryl's declining health and career, cheers her on. Sheryl sees renewed purpose from Alto's words, and resurrects her career. In the meantime, due to the toll of the war with the Vajra, S.M.S. forces are absorbed the the New United Nations Spacy fleet garrison, and Alto is promoted to Lieutenant. He becomes captain of Sagittarius squadron and pilots a VF-171 Nightmare Plus. Jeffery Wilder and Ozma return after a brief exile and recruit Alto back to deal with the Vajra Queen once and for all. He reunites with Sheryl and the two then search for the missing Ranka, who turned out to be brainwashed by Grace O'Connor. With their combined strength, they snap Ranka out of her stupor, and the triangle of friends launch their final assault on Grace, who had taken control of a Vajra Queen. With Grace defeated, Alto and the rest of the Frontier fleet settle on their newly colonized world. Alto flies through the sky in his EX-Gear, content in finally realizing his dream, as Sheryl and Ranka cheer him on.
Macross Frontier Movie: The Wings of Goodbye
Unlike the television series, Alto is well acquainted with Ranka Lee. The two have been classmates in Mihoshi Academy for some time and share a platonic relationship. Towards the end, Alto manages to save Sheryl, who had become possessed by the Vajra. He sacrifices himself, and is whisked away from the galaxy. Sheryl falls into a coma, and Ranka lives on, hoping they'd all return. His fate is reminiscent of Shin Kudō in Macross Zero.
- Ranka Lee
- Ranka got lost and met Alto on her way to Sheryl's first concert at the Macross Frontier colony, Alto showed her the way as he was a back up performer for the concert, during the sudden Vajra attack on the colony, Alto saved Ranka's life. She falls in love with him but he rejected and thanked her. (Macross Frontier Movie: The Wings of Goodbye)
- Sheryl Nome
- Alto got to meet the famous Galactic Fairy as he was scheduled to perform as a backup performer for her concert, accidentally he swooped in and carried Sheryl, but this excited the crowd more so Sheryl told Alto to continue as she sang. Alto is angered when he sees that Sheryl is evacuating the Vajra attack without any thought of the lives of her fans. Gradually he develops feelings for her and confesses. She replied with an "I love you too, Alto" while he was asleep. (Macross Frontier Movie: The Wings of Goodbye)
- Ranzō Saotome
- Ranzō Saotome is Alto's father. Ranzō raised Alto to be a Kabuki actor, (who are known for their speciality of playing female characters) however, Alto wanted to become a pilot and their relationship became distant because Alto wanted to follow his dreams.
- Yasaburō Saotome
- Yasaburō is Alto's adopted brother and Ranzō selected him as heir. Despite this, Alto bares no hard grudges against Yasaburō as Alto does not see acting as his true destiny anyway. Because of that, Yasaburō often tries to persuade Alto to return to his successful acting career.
According to director Shōji Kawamori, the concept of Alto is that he is "a boy who looks like a girl". He also says that it is an attempt to define "a character whose purpose had been lost, that he feels unclear of himself." During the initial planning stage, Alto was originally set to be a gamer , but it was changed to a Kabuki actor because it was likely to be less common. In terms of character, he was originally supposed to be "sluggish and cool," but it that trait made it difficult for him to move as a main character, and it was said that he had changed to become an indecisive figure due to being in a relationship between two girls.
- Interview: Shoji Kawamori “ Animation in Air (Macros F (Frontier) 2nd
Macross Frontier characters
|S.M.S.||Ozma Lee | Alto Saotome | Luca Angelloni | Michael Blanc | Canaria Berstein | Klan Klang | Nene Rora | Raramia Rerenia | Henry Gilliam ||
|New United Nations Spacy||Jessica Blanc | Major Ohgotwhai | Major Ohgotwhai's Advisor | Tehmzin | Machida|
|Macross Quarter||Jeffery Wilder | Catherine Glass | Bobby Margot | Monica Lang | Mina Roshan | Ram Hoa|
|Diva||Sheryl Nome | Ranka Lee|
|Macross Galaxy||Grace O'Connor | Brera Sterne|
|Frontier Presidency||Howard Glass | Leon Mishima|
|Others||Nanase Matsuura | Miranda Merin | Ranshe Mei | Mao Nome | Richard Birler | Elmo Kridanik | Ranzō Saotome | Yasaburō Saotome | George Yamamori | Ai-kun | Ōsanshōō-san|