Personality & Character
Alto is a high school student who moonlights as a Kabuki actor, but dreams to 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 fulfil 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 is fairly indecisive when it comes to romance, unable to choose between the affections of the beautiful Sheryl Nome and cute Ranka Lee.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Alto was born into the prestigious Saotome family of professional Kabuki actors.
Alto Saotome was with his classmates at Mihoshi Academy, wanting to become a fighter pilot one day and fly in real skies of planet instead of the fake sky of his space colony which he constantly complains about. He then encountered his first love interest, Ranka Lee who got lost in a forest where he and his classmates were practising how to fly. Ranka mistakes Alto for a girl at first due to his long hair and effeminate appearance which briefly angers him. He then escorts Ranka out of the forest. Later he and his classmates fly as backup performers at the same concert Ranka is going to, he prepares to perform his signature "corkscrew" move but the ceiling is too low and he swoops down, picking up Sheryl up by accident whom continue's singing which impresses the audience more than intended and the third corner to his love triangle appears.After an attack by a new alien species, fans at the concert struggle to escape while Sheryl leaves safely angering Alto as she bears no thought for her fans. Ranka escapes the concert only to be encountered by an alien, seeing variable fighter pilot Henry Gilliam killed before her very eyes. Alto avenges the death of the pilot and takes his place in the pilot's VF-25F Messiah and defends Ranka. (F: "Cross Encounter")
He is encountered by Gilliam's comrade, Ozuma Lee (Ranka's brother) and he tells Alto to take her to safety while he takes care of the Vajra, after getting to safety, he learns Ranka's name, walking through the damaged city, he is horrified. The next day at school, Catherine Glass takes him to the military to extract samples of his blood because he encountered Aliens. He meets Ozuma Lee yet again who takes him to his private military organization, the SMS. There, SMS members demand to know how their comrade Gilliam died, Alto is also surprised to see his classmates Luca and Mikhail, who wonder what is going on at the SMS. Another Vajra attack occurs, Alto demands to help out by piloting but Ozuma punches him, he leaves and encounters Sheryl whom he carried at the concert, Ranka is also there and she learns his name when Sheryl yells it out.(F: "Hard Chase")The images of the aliens and the attack hospitalised Ranka. Alto learns from Ozuma (injured from the second attack), her apparent brother, that this is because of her past.
It is soon discovered that Alto was once from a family of Kabuki actors, but he was disowned by his father for his lack of interest in the family business as he wanted to become a pilot. His father instead picks his close childhood friend as his heir and adopted son.
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)
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 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 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.