The water's surface quivers
A ring of wind spreads
Your fingertips feel
The blue current
One of the main themes of Macross Frontier is love—its love triangle is even mentioned in the very first OP, “Triangular”. As such, I feel it’s a very important topic to dwell on. In my opinion, Ranka has one main love interest that takes most of the spotlight, but there are others that exist and are important to talk about too. But let’s begin with the most obvious:
Alto is, to Ranka, more than just a friend, and more than just a small crush. He is Ranka’s inspiration and reason for singing. He is the person she tends to rely on when she’s in trouble or feeling down, and he almost always comes to the rescue or somehow manages to lifts her spirits when no one else can. More than that though, Alto and Ranka are very close friends, before anything else. Despite Ranka’s naive and shy approach to her love for Alto, the two are very good friends and mean a lot to each other.
Though they initially meet under rough circumstances, as well as Ranka confusing him for a beautiful girl at first, the two develop a very close bond quite quickly. It is through Alto’s blunt and honest personality that Ranka finds even more encouragement to follow her dreams, guided by his paper airplanes and honest answers to her questions. It is through his encouragement that she finds herself motivated, as well as through Sheryl’s words of encouragement, that Ranka finally finds the strength to believe in herself and go through with following her dream of becoming an idol. Alto is always the first to know about any of Ranka’s new gigs, and is always invited to see her perform when the action is there. Unfortunately, with Alto’s new gig with the SMS, he finds himself unable to really attend a lot of her events, and with Ranka getting busier and busier, the two come to a point where they don’t see each other often, and Ranka eventually has to deal with the fact that Sheryl is also after Alto’s affections.
With Sheryl coming into the picture, Ranka feels as though her bond and affection for Alto is under fire. How can she possibly compete with Sheryl, her idol; everything she looks up to and lacks?
The answer can be found on the set of Tori no Hito, a move in which Ranka was originally cast to play a minor role. During one scene, a couple actors need replacements, and Alto as well as Ranka have been asked to cast. The scene is one involving a kiss, however, and while at first Ranka is hesitant to play the scene with Alto, she becomes motivated to cast after seeing Sheryl kiss Alto. How can she still compete with Sheryl? Because she has the confidence in herself to fight for Alto.
Not only does this strengthen Ranka’s resolve to fight for Alto’s affection, but it was what radially shifted Ranka’s idol career to a booming one.
With the two drifting apart even more thanks to Ranka’s surge of new activities, it is on Alto’s birthday that she finally finds the courage to send him a voicemail detailing a meeting place she wants to see him at to give him a present. She is, however, instead met by Mikael who explains that Alto has left with Sheryl to go to Gallia-4 instead. This crushes Ranka, but when bad news of what happened at Gallia-4 reaches her, Ranka regathers her resolve and has Mikael pilot her to the planet not only to save the two who were there, but also to give Alto his birthday present: a live concert! Through this action, Alto is ever grateful to Ranka, and receives his daily reminder from Mikael to answer Ranka’s feelings—but does he ever listen?
Not long after this, Ranka and Alto begin to butt heads. Ranka is soon met with the idea that her songs can affect the Vajra, and is asked to be Macross Frontier’s Songstress of Hope—singing and aiding in battle with the Vajra. Alto, however, sees how this is affecting her and is constantly asking if this is what Ranka really wants, despite also voicing that her power is very helpful. Knowing she is helpful to Alto, of course, makes her want to keep singing. But eventually, through talking with Brera as well as doubting herself, Ranka begins to question things. When she introduces her Vajra friend Ai-kun to Alto, he does not seem to understand anything other than to kill it, which frustrates Ranka. Why does he want to kill her friend, who has done nothing wrong? Has he ever thought that just maybe all Vajra aren’t inherently bad? After feeling Alto’s rage and anger, Ranka decides that leaving the fleet to find Ai-kun’s family is something she can’t do with Alto—and she voices this. She voices how much she has loved him and how much she wanted him to come with her, but knows that he won’t and it hurts her. Upon leaving the frontier, Ranka’s place as a weapon against the Vajra is nulled and she is branded a traitor.
Feeding into the lies he has been told, Alto promises to kill Ranka if it ever comes to it—not because he hates her, but because he loves her. He loves her so much that he is willing to stop her should she start to dabble into something that goes against everything she sings for. Though it seems redundant and confusing, it is truly from the depth of Alto’s heart that he feels this way.
In the final battle, it is Alto that wakes Ranka up from her trance. It is through both him, Alto, and Sheryl that the battle against Grace is won. Hearing Alto’s words in the midst of her despair brought Ranka back to life. In the aftermath, Alto delcares both girls to be his wings, needing both of them to be able to fly properly.
Throughout everything that Ranka goes through for Alto, there are some fans that wish for nothing more than the two girls to fall in love with each other and leave Alto behind. I think in the grand scheme of things it would make sense, and it would be ideal. Alto is such a clueless dude sometimes and I feel like the two girls have a lot of chemistry with each other. Though it is confirmed in the final movie that both Alto and Sheryl end up together, I’d like to think there’s still a possibility of romance between the two girls.