Alto’s behavior towards Ranka is marked by denial of her attentions and attraction for him, along with a strong sense of duty to protect her, and to help her along her chosen path. At its most extreme, Alto risks his life as the protection duty involves rescuing her from Vajra and defending her from perceived Vajra attacks. Alto values either duty, or Ranka’s safety and well-being more than his own.
This too is a form of love.
Alto’s behavior towards Sheryl is marked by denial of their mutual attraction, manifesting in variable moments of rudeness and tenderness between them. Alto is as tsundere for Sheryl as she is towards him. Alto, in regard of Sheryl and her needs or desires risks his pride and/or self image to do attend to them.
In this episode, the tension is increased. Will our teenagers resolve their feelings? Will a war against alien insects get in the way?
While it’s easy to observe Alto’s milestones with Ranka, with all his attempts to protect her and rescue her. It’s not as easy with Sheryl. However, something happens in this episode that makes it very clear. Alto went back to the Saotome mansion because he cared for her, a place he vowed never to set foot in ever again.
With Ranka, Alto is willing to take a vow.
For Sheryl, Alto is willing to break one.
What is more telling, or critical, for a person who has the kind of pride to make such promises? I would say it’s the latter. There is nothing at stake at the moment one makes a promise, not yet anyway. The very act of boldly making a promise, or accepting a duty, is an edifying one. It makes us feel important, as someone who can be counted on.
To break a vow, this is when shit gets real. It’s where one’s word meets the reality of being. Am I powerful enough that what I say becomes true? Am I a person who others can count on to do what I said I was going to do? Can I trust myself to follow through with something I told myself I would do, or never do?
Sure one can justify breaking a promise. The promise could be ill or harmful in the first place, so it makes it easier to break. But for Alto who was determined to create himself on his own terms, apart from what his family wanted, to go back to the mansion – which he has ceased to call his home, an admission of defeat.
It is interesting to note, how Alto has always failed at protecting or rescuing Ranka, apart from that first time before he made a promise. It was always Brera ever since he showed up in their lives. But see here, Alto never has to admit that he failed, because he was part of the solution even if he can’t claim credit for the rescue or defense. He hasn’t broken his vow, not yet anyway.
But in going to see Sheryl, whose condition he isn’t even in full understanding of, he breaks his promise to himself. Inside him he is confronted with his inability to be truthful: he can’t keep a promise, not even to himself, nor face the possibility of how these girls feel about him, and what it could mean to him.
Certainly, Sheryl means enough to him that he can break the biggest promise he’s made to himself so far.
In the meantime, Ranka is coming to terms with why she is really singing. Saving humanity from the Vajra is nice, although she’s conflicted about the fighting with and killing of the Vajra, but she comes to terms that all of this is about a boy. She doesn’t care enough, or at least understand enough of how important she is now, to the colony. She doesn’t understand the responsibility on her shoulders yet. Well, she’s 16; an age where I made a lot of really dumb mistakes myself.
But see here, Sheryl is only 17, and somehow I wouldn’t imagine her making those mistakes. Sheryl can keep her feelings for Alto away from things of larger importance, including rescuing her rival Ranka back when she was kidnapped by the Vajra in Gallia IV. Sheryl’s idiocy is far more similar to Alto’s, an overweening pride that refuses to reach out to those whose support they most need, and a failure to acknowledge their own limitations. Thank goodness they’re not in command.
Also at this point, the conspiracies of the not-so-allied conspirators are coming to a head. This, and another unintended consequence more than anything get in the way of a would-be confrontation and resolution of the romantic triangle. Things are getting darker this side of Macross.
The different love triangles in the Macross franchise (charts!) [->]
How the triangle began its setting up in Macross Frontier [->]