The Geometry of Love and Alto Saotome: Macross Frontier 19 “Triangler”

macross frontier 19 ranka concert sky writing

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?

macross frontier 19 ranka reacting to sky writing

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.

macross frontier 19 alto the sky writer

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?

macross frontier 19 ranka is sure about her feelings and rushes to confess them

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.

macross frontier 19 sheryl and alto caught together by ranka

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.

macross frontier 19 ranka discovers that she's losing alto

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.

Further Reading

The different love triangles in the Macross franchise (charts!) [->]

How the triangle began its setting up in Macross Frontier [->]

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.
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25 Responses to The Geometry of Love and Alto Saotome: Macross Frontier 19 “Triangler”

  1. Claudia says:

    I had thought that there would be a secondary love triangle between Cathy x Ozma x Canaria and I really would’ve enjoyed that.

    I suppose Leon x Cathy x Ozma exists but it’s quite disgusting.

    • I would’ve enjoyed that too! I think the key to love triangles is for the characters involved to be sympathetic which is why Leon and Brera make for weak points in what would have been triangles.

  2. Claudia says:

    Oh, how I wished there was a proper Guld-style suitor for Klan Klan… a bit wack0 and prefers being macronized. That Michel faggot needed some pwnage and Alto is a fail.

    • Hahaha. I now wonder what made Guld so sympathetic. Maybe it’s because it is implied after all (even early in the narrative) that they were once all good friends. Assholes with friends who care for them become sympathetic somehow.

  3. Bruno J Global says:

    This is the best analysis about the love triangle I’ve seen at this point of the series. Well, of course I won’t find the best analysis back then when it’s currently airing since most are at the height of the shipping wars. Yeah, screw the love triangle, I’d want my capital ship action!

    (Oh hai Claudia, bring along the other bridge bunnies and let’s have a reunion in this blog.)

    • Indeed it was very difficult to think these details through in the heat of the show’s run. Even now I’m coming to terms with how these characters stack up in the tradition of Macross shows. I think Sheryl IS the breakout character in all of the franchise. Basara Nekki is still a clown if you think about it, as remarkable in the tradition of super robot characters. But Sheryl… well, more on her in the upcoming posts.

      Also, the shit is hitting the fan and more violence to come.

  4. Crusader says:

    It is indeed rather telling about Alto-hime’s motivations when it comes to the vows he makes, the vows he keeps, and the vows he breaks. Certainly towards the endgame more vows will be made, some will be kept, one hime made will be broken to the point that he makes a near 180 on it.

    Brera probably could have managed without Alto-hime, it’s not like Brera in his VF-27 ever really needed cover from hime and his VF-25. In fact Hime only succeeds in upholding his promise but twice, and the last time only because Brera fell prey to his only real limitation.

    Well shit will get REAL for Ranka soon enough, I look forward to see how you can deconstruct her actions after that. Even now I still get a bit disgusted with her reaction.

    • Ranka’s behavior, if you permit a Doylian perspective, is easily explained: it’s Minmay all over again. Watsonian speculation will come up short and frustrating. The satisfying explanation is that the narrative remembers love for Minmay.

      It’s not just Ranka too. Sheryl went first with the “I don’t want to sing anymore” bit, but she worked through it (more in the next post). It’s Ranka that manifests the more annoying ‘Romanesque’ version Minmay who wants to quit singing because she doesn’t know what her songs are for, or resents how her music is used.

      In SDFM she resolved her impasse after losing Hikaru to Misa. In DYRL Hikaru slapped the shit out of her and it worked! Here in Frontier, Sheryl does the slapping, but the results are as interesting as they are frustrating (for some, anyway). More in the upcoming post (it’s all written and scheduled).

  5. Ri says:

    “Certainly, Sheryl means enough to him that he can break the biggest promise he’s made to himself so far.”

    Good analysis so far. But the thing is with this sentence. Would that have been Ranka? Alto would’ve done the same thing. If Alto had seen Ranka collapse in front of him, in a near-death state and taken by Yasaburo to his home. He’ll also come home. In a heartbeat.

    I just want to point that out to stir things. 🙂

    • Oh no doubt, but it didn’t happen like that. In the succeeding episodes, he could have broken his vow to defend the colony and followed Ranka when she left. What did he do? He forsake his vow to protect her and stayed with the Colony and Sheryl. Ozma even lectured him in a dogfight.

      More to come in the succeeding posts. Stay tuned!

      • Ri says:

        So you also think that Alto would’ve come home, sacrificing his pride and self-image, as well if Ranka was the one laying there sick. That applies to both girls. We share the same opinion? Thanks. :}

        To answer your second paragraph. Yes Alto didn’t follow Ranka when she left, but you also should know, Alto wouldn’t have done that if it weren’t for the following:

        1. He has the belief that the Vajra is the enemy based on his encounters of them. Thus, his views are limited.
        2. He was sold to the idea that Frontier with many innocent lives is in the brink of extinction because of the Vajra.
        3. Most of all, he misundertood Ranka when she defected to the Vajra. (“Why? Why are you trying to kill us, Ranka?” ep. 24)

        Based on what he knew at that point, Alto doesn’t have a logical reason to protect Ranka regardless of how he felt. He was in fact, for a better word, miserable to have to choose between Ranka and the innocent civilians.

        • Ri says:

          Hmm….I am probably going to shut up for now seeing as that you haven’t seen all of the episodes yet. Sorry if I ever spoiled anything. :p

          • no I’ve seen Frontier MANY MANY times over. I’m just taking time to produce these posts. I’ve written up to episode 22 so far. I’ll probably sit down and write the final stretch this month.

            These posts are scheduled to publish every 7 or so days.

        • There’s nothing in his character and behavior that he would respond differently if the different girls had the same exact circumstances. However, I think this is not a useful trail to follow. The different circumstances are what makes the narrative what it is.

          This would also apply to your treatise on Alto’s choice when Ranka left. If Ranka successfully sold Alto on the Vajra would he have followed? Perhaps he would have, if it would mean that Sheryl would be safe as well and there was no other way.

          That said, he made the choice that he did, given what he knew and the circumstances that he was in.

          Now if you are using this as an absolute indicator of “Who does Alto love more?” I don’t really know.

          • Ri says:

            Glad you’ve seen all of it, I was worried I might have spoiled things.

            I’m not really out here to keep a Ranka vs Sheryl score card, I’m just pointing out some of the points that I think needed to be said before I can fully agree with some of your well thought out analysis.

            And Alto does react differently depending on how you approach him especially since Ranka and Sheryl’s personalities are very different, but beneath all that if the going gets tough he is shown to care. That’s how he is. 😉

  6. Maki says:

    Hello! I am agree with Ri and I am agree with you ghostlightning!

    Alto cared for Sheryl no doubt and he went to see her…but he did something similar for Ranka in episode 10…he acted again, even though he escaped of that.He ran from his home because he wanted to stop acting, against his father wishes, and reach the sky even so he acted on the movie to help Ranka.

    • You’re right, that he did. But Sheryl already put him waist-deep in that quicksand by getting him to do promo-work, and she trolled him into accepting the movie job too. So Ranka got a hueg assist.

      • Maki says:

        I disagree here… he was with Sheryl in the promos because it was his work and he didn’t have to act, he was modeling the VF. In the movie it wasn’t an order, he took the decision and he acted( we know that was a difficult decision because he didn’t like to act anymore and in the next episodes we watched that he cursed his heritance ” the blood of the actor”), so, Alto did something great for Ranka…I am not trying to underestimate what he did for Sheryl, but, he also fighted against his internal conflicts for Ranka.

        Well I look forward to read your next review!

        • I didn’t mean that Alto didn’t make a responsible choice, only that Sheryl was a big part of it. So for the purpose of a Ranka vs. Sheryl scorecard, Sheryl is up and leading. I don’t think we disagree much at all ^_^

  7. phoenixeyrie says:

    Haha, I love this post ^_^

    I never viewed the Triangle of Macross Frontier that way. Makes it more interesting, in my opinion.

    And makes me love the series more ^_^

  8. muffinman says:

    I HATE SHERYL HER PERSONALITY IS VERY ANNOYING….sorry Sheryl fans…..

  9. dika says:

    alto dead meat

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