Someone’s showing a bit of character: Alto Saotome

I’m breaking a personal rule here. I said I wouldn’t cover a character I would obviously like, or a lead character (especially in one of my favorite shows). However, I break this rule because I finally figured out a way to participate in   the 12 anime moments of 2008 (Part of a 12-day series fondly remembering some of the best moments in anime this year. Participants include: lolikitsune, lelangir, Owen S, FuyuMaiden, IKnight, Zeroblade, Nazarielle, TheBigN, ETERNAL, Mike, A Day Without Me, digitalboy, Josh, otou-san, Culchann and Pontifus, IcyStorm, Cokematic, koneko-chan, and miz, and you’re welcome to join too!).

I’m already on day 9 of the series, and I’m afraid I can’t do much about my backlog, but I do want to participate somehow, and this is my first sortie. By the way, the list is not in any order, just the moments that come to mind.

Alto uses SLAVE MODE to control his VF-25F Messiah brought to him by Luca and Klan Klan. This is one of the very few Macross Plus references in the nostalgia buffet that is Macross Frontier (the others can be found in episode 1 Deculture edition, and in Ranka-as-Macross-Galaxy the same way Sharon Apple became the visage of SDF-1 in Macross Plus).

The awesomeness of this moment is rooted on these things:

  1. The reference to Isamu Dyson’s hand movements.
  2. Northern Cross played up to its awesome potential. OMG Sheryl!
  3. SMS Skull squad executing tactical play: Totsugeki Love Heart!
  4. Klan Klan in loli form piloting Mikhail’s bird.
  5. Alto coming to terms with his identity.

While all five are of tremendous significance to a decultard such as myself, this post is concerned with the 5th item. One thing I noticed in Crusader’s post, his tour-de-force treatment of Alto, is that he didn’t go after this moment. He did say this:

I think that for a lot of men that the biggest influence on your life was probably a woman, hell you probably came from one as well with no shortage of pain that men can scarcely imagine I might add. Besides if you can recall your childhood I am sure it was your mother who scolded you every time you did something stupid or wrong, if your mum was old school you probably got a good beating as well. Like most guys today Alto-hime had to learn how to accept his feminine side, and even the bravest of US Marines have to learn how to cook, sew, do laundry, and if they have a family, take care of their girl children as well.

I’ve had strong women around me for most of my life. I was raised in a matriarchy, where the extended family revolves around my grandmother (on my mother’s side). I’ve had awesome colleagues and friends that are women, and have formed deep relationships with them. I married quite the strong one too. After 9 or so units of Gender studies at uni, I’ve absolutely no problem with feminine sides.


This is relevant in that moment, Alto was going to do manly things: rescue Ranka and save the galaxy. He did so by accepting his femininity, by owning his identity as an actor playing a woman’s role. He acknowledged this too is him, and his ability to fly is very much intertwined with the skills he’s earned as an actor.

Watch him, his hands, his turning in space. He <i>danced</i> to bring the VF-25 Messiah closer, to the music of Sheryl. What Crusader’s post is so successful at doing, is presenting Alto as a subtly layered male lead. I realize that he’s not an obvious favorite of mine, and he still isn’t (way behind Basara, Isamu, Ichijou, and Max). And this moment is where it all comes together.

This post is the fulfillment of a request made by Roland. You can post your requests here.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in fanboy, Macross Frontier, moments in anime, showing a bit of character and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Someone’s showing a bit of character: Alto Saotome

  1. gloval says:

    you got that scene right i think. although if i may add, it’s also about alto accepting his past.

    anyway, on to other stuff: few macross plus references? grace reminds me of sharon apple along with the underlying theme on the danger of high technology. then there were the ghosts of course. at that part when SMS turned pirate, i really started seeing many plus references and used the OVA as guide to predicting the last few episodes. the SMS incident reminded me of two renegade pilots that saved macross city, which suggested the cliche that the renegades would again save the day. and there’s ranka trapped in a macross-class ship.

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  3. ghostlightning says:

    @ gloval

    You pwnd me in getting all the references to Plus. Shame on me. Nothing more to say except you’re awesome at Macross.

  4. Orcinus says:

    As always, it deepens our appreciation of the subject by recalling the fact that the Philippine provinces still have that toughy guy, patriarchal mindset. I know some people, coming to Manila, and before having to take up gender studies, are culture shocked by the way some of the more urbanized men are and react by harkening back to provincial simplicities and of course, the tough guy culture. Of course, avenues to getting in touch with your feminine side are more open in more developed countries because unlike in the Philippines, there are no domestic helpers.

  5. ghostlightning says:

    @ Orcinus

    I think I know what you mean. In addition to about 9 (undergrad) units in gender studies (WOMALIT, GALELIT, WOMAPHI), I grew up in (gasp!) Philippine matriarchies. The men are patronized but the women are venerated and make important decisions.

    Family gatherings are centered around the matriarch. The in-laws are the ones who come to visit, and even live with our clan (my mother’s side).

    It should be no surprise I guess that I married a powerful female personality (hi sybilant!) who has a matriarchal family structure herself (on her mother’s side).

    I don’t get offended when it’s pointed out who wears the pants in the marriage (as long as the pantsu’s also there somewhere lol), along with even more supposedly insulting idioms such as ander de saya and what have you. As Ozma said, I’m not an adult, I’m a MAN!. And manliness too, is the power to give others the complete freedom to be.

  6. Orcinus says:

    I can’t remember where I got the following, but it makes sense: Like they say, there is a conflict between the “hards” and the “softs”, where the hards are the type of guys who follow the old model of what men are like (macho types, comfortable only around other men and feel like they can’t understand women at all).

  7. cuchlann says:

    I just remember this. I’m a huge whore for linking you to my blog, I know, but I wrote this post on Alto several months ago that you might like.

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