In 2059, Alto Saotome floats through space and thinks about how there’s no up or down compared to the sky of a planet. A Passenger Liner carrying superstar singer Sheryl Nome de-folds near the Macross Frontier emigration fleet. Sheryl and her manager, Grace O’Connor, disembark from the liner and enter the city on Island 1. Ranka Lee gets a call from Alto that he got her a ticket to Sheryl’s concert since he’s participating in the aerobatics show for it. Ranka then leaves the Nyan-Nyan restaurant where she works to make a delivery. On the roof of the Mihoshi Academy High School, Alto practices EX-Gear maneuvers with Michael Blanc and Luca Angeloni, but he complains that the routine is boring and he could do more loops. Michael asks if he’s upset at being treated like an amateur by Sheryl during rehearsal, but Alto answers that he just wants to fly to his fullest. Alto and Michael then start fighting when Michael teases him about his former acting career, and Ranka arrives with their ramen order. Alto spots an eagle flying above and launches the paper plane he assembled from a Sheryl poster. He then takes off in his EX-Gear and chases after the paper plane. Later, Sheryl’s concert opens by citing past famous musicians like Lynn Minmay, Sharon Apple and Fire Bomber. Holographic projections of clockwork men appear on stage as Sheryl sings “Universal Bunny.” She also appears as a darker vampire double who bites herself. At the same time, New U.N. Spacy launches multiple VF-171 Nightmare Plus variable fighters, which open fire and are in turn attacked by an unknown enemy. Alto and the others begin their aerobatics show as the lead in for Sheryl’s song “Welcome to my Fan Club’s Night.” Alto is annoyed by Sheryl shooting holographic hearts at him, so he buzzes by her on stage. Sheryl then jumps off the stage, and he rushes in to grab her. She tells him they’re doing more, so he keeps flying while carrying her. The alien life forms known as Vajra open fire on the Nightmare Pluses and destroy multiple units until the SMS PMC arrives with their VF-25 Messiahs.
Multiple Vajra Heavy Soldiers break past the fleet’s defenses and head for Island 1, but they are followed by SMS pilot Henry Gilliam. Backstage, Alto argues with Sheryl about her jump, but she says that it’s just entertainment. Sheryl says there’s no fun in being predictable, and she wanted to check how well he could fly. She then reveals gas jet clusters lining her skirt, which would allow her to land safely anyway. The concert abruptly ends when a battle alert is sounded, with Michael and Luca slipping away quietly. Alto and Sheryl climb up to the roof and see the battle outside Island 1. A Heavy Soldier breaks through the dome and fires at the stadium, knocking Alto and Sheryl off the roof. Alto gives chase and tells Sheryl to fire her gas jet clusters. Meanwhile, Gilliam ejects his Messiah’s Super Pack and follows the Vajra into Island 1. A Mobile Soldier attacks Sheryl, but Alto swoops in and grabs her. He flies quickly into an alley to lose the Vajra. Nearby, Ranka leaves the concert and sees more Vajra arriving. Gilliam attacks a Heavy Soldier, but it jumps onto his Messiah and brings it down to the ground near Ranka. Gilliam ejects in his EX-Gear and opens fire with a machine gun, but the Heavy Soldier grabs and crushes him to death. Alto hears Ranka’s scream and jumps into the Messiah, with his EX-Gear converting into controls. Alto takes off and opens fire on the Heavy Soldier as it approaches Ranka. Ozma Lee flies into Island 1 and sees that someone is using Gilliam’s Messiah to defend his adopted sister, Ranka. Ranka starts to have a traumatic flashback, and Ozma unleashes missiles on the Heavy Soldier to destroy it. The Heavy Soldier then revives and fires missiles, injuring Ozma. Alto jumps out of the cockpit and puts his EX-Gear wings in a defensive posture to protect Ranka and Ozma. The Heavy Soldier is then sniped by Michael’s Messiah, which lands nearby. The cyborg Brera Stern grabs Sheryl by the arm and says he’s come to escort her because the Vajra invasion happened sooner than expected. He then picks her up and jumps down into a sewer. After the battle, the carcass is loaded onto a truck and hauled away. Frontier President Howard Glass is briefed on the situation by his presidential aide, Leon Mishima. Glass thinks the timing is convenient and wants Leon to look into Sheryl’s background. Sheryl takes a bath and thinks about what happened earlier, and she’s shocked when she realizes one of her earrings is missing. The news reports 228 casualties from the Vajra attack. Alto is taken to an SMS facility, where the injured Ozma reveals that Michael and Luca are pilots. He also states that normally Alto would be court-martialed for unauthorized use of the Messiah, but it’s up to SMS what happens to him. Ozma is grateful that Ranka is safe and mentions that she reacts strangely when people close to her are injured. Canaria Berstein explains that Ranka has dissociative amnesia due to past trauma, and certain events can trigger flashbacks. Ozma adds that Ranka lost her entire family 11 years ago and that he’s not actually her brother. Alto wants to know more, and Ozma gives him 24 hours to decide what he wants to do. Michael asks Alto in an elevator if he’s going to run away again and notes that war isn’t like acting on the stage. Alto objects, and Michael tells him that his recklessness is going to get himself or someone else killed. Later, the SMS crew holds a funeral service for Gilliam, whose remains will be recycled.
Alto walks to Griffith Park and hears Ranka singing “Aimo” to herself, which she explains is the only thing she remembers from her childhood. She says that she always thought living was a given, but now she sees life is so short. Alto launches a paper airplane, and when Ranka wonders if she could fly, Alto tells her she can’t with language like “if I could.” She asks Alto if he’ll listen to her song and starts singing “Aimo” again. Alto decides that he wants to fly, even if the sky is a battlefield. Ranka is surprised when Sheryl’s voice joins her in song. Sheryl tells Ranka that she has a nice voice and asks how she knows the words for “Aimo.” Before Ranka can answer, Sheryl gets a phone call from Grace about being late for a live broadcast, so she leaves abruptly. Alto joins SMS and reports for duty on the battleship Macross Quarter 25. The crew then haze Alto by putting on gas masks and tossing a gas bomb at him. Later, Alto walks through the city and is tripped by Sheryl. He takes her to his school and searches his locker for her earring, but he doesn’t find it. Ozma is upset with Ranka because she entered the Miss Macross contest and was suspended from her private girl’s school. Ozma rides in a car and calls Michael and Luca with orders to find Ranka. NUNS officer Cathy Glass comments that maybe things would’ve been different if he’d paid attention to her like that. Michael calls Alto about Ranka, but he says that he isn’t with her. Sheryl hangs up the phone and asks Alto if he’s dating Ranka. Alto asks Sheryl how she knows “Aimo,” and she tells him he’ll have to catch her if he wants to know. Alto asks how Sheryl knows he has her earring, and she explains that Grace recorded her vision. He then asks if those cyborg implants are illegal, and Sheryl explains that they’re quite common on the Macross Galaxy fleet. Ranka angrily tells Michael that she won’t go home until Ozma accepts that she wants to be a singer. Alto and Sheryl visit Island 3 and ride Segways through the plains and forest area, which Sheryl is amazed by. Alto catches Sheryl when her Segway falls off a cliff, but he can’t keep his balance, so they both fall. She then calls him a pervert and hits him for looking at her when one of her breasts has mostly fallen out of her top. He then tends to a cut on her arm since she comes from a sealed plant ship and isn’t used to the microorganisms on Frontier.
Discussing what they do, Alto mentions that he wants to go fly in a real sky on a planet someday. Sheryl takes her shoes off to go wade in a lake. Sheryl explains that her late mother used to sing “Aimo” and that her grandmother had heard it on some planet and said it symbolized fate. Alto wonders how Ranka knows it and if it’s related to the incident from 11 years ago. Sheryl comments that Ranka’s singing was cute, but that it also sounded sad and lonely. She also tells Alto that Ranka is in love with him. Brera secretly follows Ranka and reports to Grace that she’s traveling to Island 3, likely to the Zentran Mall. Leon hosts a meeting where a Vajra corpse was studied and reports that its outer shell is similar to a valkyrie’s energy conversion armor, it can fold independently, and its body internally produces missile-like objects. He also reports that it has a very small brain and might be controlled externally, perhaps by Macross Galaxy. Michael buys Ranka ice cream, but she continues to pout about Ozma. He tells her to stop acting like a spoiled child because she doesn’t even know what Ozma fights for. He tells her that if she wants to sing, she should do so right now since no one came to see her. Ranka sees a paper airplane flying above and starts singing Sheryl’s “What ‘bout my Star?” A crowd starts to gather around her, and Brera observes a fold wave emerging from the song. The Vajra corpse then revives, so Leon purges the module it was in and detonates it. Michael comments that he’s amazed by Ranka’s performance, and she sees Sheryl and Alto talking. Sheryl wants to ask Ranka about “Aimo,” and Alto promises to get her earring back. Sheryl gives him a kiss, and a man named Elmo Kridanik wants to talk to Ranka about debuting with his company. Later, Ranka finds herself in a costume singing a song about natto, but people are repulsed by the natto. Ranka keeps getting small jobs while Alto continues his SMS training. For one job, Ranka dresses in a valkyrie costume to promote a hobby shop. Alto “dies” for the 25th time in a simulator and accuses Michael of increasing the difficulty level.
Alto wonders when he’ll finally get to fly a Messiah, and Michael tells him he gets too emotional while flying. They see Ranka outside SMS, and Michael tells Alto to go talk to her. Luca asks Michael if he told Ranka what time Alto would be coming out. Alto talks at Ranka, but she says nothing and walks to a convenience store. When the clock strikes midnight, the store starts playing a jingle Ranka sang. Ranka thanks Alto and says she was able to sing because of him. Alto and Ranka ride a cable car and talk about Sheryl. He says that he thought she just had a wild personality, but there’s also a childish and innocent side to her. But when she’s on stage, she’s able to delight an audience the way a true pro can. Alto talks about his acting life and states that he eventually became tired of following the path his father laid out for him. He says that eventually got lost in acting and that the roles would take over to the extent that he didn’t know who he was anymore. Ranka tells him that he’ll always be himself, no matter what happens. Later, Alto rides with Ozma, who tells him not to get close to Sheryl because she and Grace are suspected of being Macross Galaxy spies. Ozma mentions that Ranka is the sole survivor of the Gallia IV incident and that Sheryl might’ve already known Alto was close to her, and Alto thinks that must be how Sheryl knows “Aimo.” Alto meets with Michael to discuss Sheryl, and Michael points out there are many examples in history of celebrities acting as spies. Alto asks Michael if he thinks Sheryl is a spy, and Michael answers that the possibility is greater than zero. Michael thinks that if Sheryl’s make up concert is tomorrow, there will be an attack tonight. Sheryl looks through the photos on her phone, which includes a photo of Ranka with her mother, Ranshe Mei, along with Mao Nome. Ranka returns home and encounters a small green creature that she decides to keep. Alto looks over his Messiah in the hangar and finds Sheryl’s earring, which is immediately followed by him getting a phone call from her to meet at Griffith Park. Sheryl is surprised to see Ranka at the park, and Ranka explains that she’s nervous about the choreography for her upcoming first concert. Sheryl tells Ranka that she and Alto were just playing around, and she gives Ranka two tickets so she can bring Alto to the show. Sheryl starts singing “Aimo” and is joined by Ranka. The creature, which Ranka named Ai-kun, starts glowing in response to her singing. Sheryl asks Ranka about Gallia IV, but Ranka answers that she has no memories of her childhood. Ranka then has a brief flashback and chases after Ai-kun when it runs off. Alto then sees them and pushes Sheryl aside. Alto accuses Sheryl of being a spy and attacking Ranka, but Ranka explains that’s not the case. Sheryl tells Alto that he’s the worst and walks off as it starts raining.
Elsewhere, Grace and her coconspirators decide that Ranka is who they’re looking for, and they’re interested in her fold waves and the creature. They worry about Sheryl’s ability to perform tomorrow, but Grace is certain that Sheryl can awaken what they want in Ranka. Ozma drives Alto back to an SMS base to leave him there under house arrest. On the Macross Quarter 25, Captain Jeffrey Wilder tells bridge operator Monica Lang that he expects a tough battle with the Vajra. Leon tells Howard that they’ve received an SOS. Alto touches Sheryl’s earring and feels a reaction to it. He feels intense pain when he puts it on and realizes that these are her feelings. The next morning, Alto rushes over to the waterside stadium where Sheryl’s concert will take place. She tells him to leave, but he wants to return her earring. He doesn’t know if she’s a spy, but he wants her to know that she’s not alone. He explains that the earring helped him feel what’s buried deep in her heart, which she thinks is presumptuous. Grace interrupts them and tells Ozma and Cathy to come out of hiding. Cathy declares that she’s arresting Grace, whose real last name is Godunuwa, on charges of espionage. Grace reveals that the Macross Galaxy fleet was attacked two hours ago by the Vajra and sent an SOS to Macross Frontier, but the government has done nothing. She mentions a rumor on her fleet that Macross Frontier wants to land first on the Vajra home world and monopolize its resources. Cathy pulls up the information and the finding by the government that the SOS is being ignored as a sabotage attempt. Sheryl asks Grace how she could keep quiet about this, and Grace answers that there’s nothing they can do. Sheryl then asks Ozma how much it would cost to hire SMS to rescue Macross Galaxy, and he answers 120 million credits. Sheryl gives Ozma her credit card and offers the royalties on her next album if the card isn’t enough. Sheryl tells Alto to return the earring after the battle, and Ozma tells them that Wilder has approved the mission.
The Macross Quarter 25 de-folds at the appointed coordinates and spots several refugee ships from Macross Galaxy. Wilder then orders the crew to go to battle stations. Alto launches in his Messiah, which is equipped with a Tornado Pack. At Macross Frontier, a massive ship rises out of the water as Sheryl starts singing “Sagittarius at 9pm – Don’t be Late.” The rest of the SMS forces launch, including the Queadluun-Rhea team led by Klan Klang. Alto and Ozma come under fire from multiple Vajra Mobile Soldiers. Ranka runs on the street to get to the concert. The Macross Quarter 25 fires its main gun at several Vajra ships and destroys them. The Macross Galaxy refugee ships reach the safe zone to fold away, but at the last minute several are destroyed from weapons fire by a Vajra Heavy Battleship. Ranka gets to her seat and finds that Alto isn’t there. She then gets a voicemail from Ozma that he had a mission and won’t be back to tonight. Alto rushes in and opens fire on the Heavy Battleship. Sheryl tells the crowd that the next song is very important to her and that she wants to dedicate it to a group of people who are putting their lives on the line for others. Ranka realizes that Sheryl knew about SMS but is still performing anyway. Sheryl starts singing “Diamond Crevasse” as a large projection of her covers the water. Ranka starts singing with Sheryl, and Alto hears them both. The Vajra stop moving and begin a fold operation with Alto still at the Heavy Battleship. The Macross Quarter 25 conducts an emergency fold to chase the Vajra back to the Macross Frontier fleet. The Vajra ships then open fire and blast holes into Island 1’s dome. Grace thinks to herself that the Vajra were guided here by song, just as expected. Alto gets inside Island 1 and flies to the concert venue. Battle Frontier undocks from Island 1 and fires its Macross Cannon at the Heavy Battleship, which emerges undamaged due to a fold barrier. Ranka feels pain and has a flashback to her song summoning the Vajra to Gallia IV. A Mobile Soldier attacks the stage, but Alto saves Sheryl and tells her to get on board. Ranka thinks to herself that at this rate, everyone will die. She starts glowing and runs to the water to lure the Vajra toward her. A Heavy Mobile Soldier grabs Ranka and flies off with her, and Alto gives chase. Alto’s Messiah is hit by enemy fire, and Sheryl starts singing “Obelisk” as she runs toward him. The Messiah descends toward the city, but Alto can hear Sheryl’s singing via the earring. He regains control and blasts a Vajra chasing after him. Grace picks up an increasing fold wave from Sheryl and wonders if Ranka woke up her dormant power. Grace tells the crew to broadcast Sheryl’s singing to give people hope.
People on the streets and in shelters cheer as they hear Sheryl’s voice. Island 1 loses gravity control, and Alto spots the Heavy Mobile Soldier that has run off with Ranka. Alto chases after Ranka and comes under attack from other Vajra, but he’s assisted by Brera’s VF-27 Lucifer. Several Mobile Soldiers close in on Sheryl and are destroyed by Ozma. Sheryl keeps up with the singing and starts “Northern Cross.” Although encased within the Vajra, Ranka hears Sheryl and starts singing along. Canaria lands her Konig Monster on Island 1’s dome and destroys a Vajra ship. Alto dodges enemy fire while chasing after Ranka, and Michael tries to get a clear shot to help. Alto cuts the sac holding Ranka open and ejects with his EX-Gear to grab her. She’s knocked loose, so Alto chases after her. Michael fires on the Vajra and then immediately comes under attack. Alto catches Ranka, but his EX-Gear’s engine gives out. He uses remote control to bring in his Messiah and catch them both. Alto drops Ranka next to Sheryl so they can keep singing together while Ozma and Brera protect them. The Macross Quarter dodges fire from the Heavy Battleship and smashes through it with a pinpoint barrier attack and missile barrage that damages the ship from within. Battle Frontier then fires its Macross Cannon again and destroys the Heavy Battleship this time. Klan rushes over to wreckage of Michael’s Messiah and finds him alive and stuck to the bridge. Alto thanks Brera for his help, and Ranka is amazed when it starts to snow. Alto tells Sheryl and Ranka that they both sang well. Alto tries to give Sheryl the earring back, and she tells him to keep it as a bonus. Sheryl thanks Alto and Ranka and tells them she now knows she’s not alone.
If you expected the The False Songstress to be a compilation-style adaptation of the TV series, you’d be mistaken. While it does use some footage from the first six episodes, elements are changed to match the new animation, which results in almost an entirely different story. Some of the more obvious new things are new mecha designs both for the humans and Vajra, along with new songs by May’n. In this version of the story, Grace is immediately a suspicious person with her plot, which more directly involves Sheryl now. There’s also a suspicion in Frontier‘s government about them being Macross Galaxy spies, and Brera plays a far different role than in the TV series. Additionally, Alto and Ranka are already friends and her crush is an established thing, compared to them being strangers at the start of the show. Alto and Sheryl engage in some different bonding activities, but their relationship is damaged over a misunderstanding and Alto’s accusation that she’s a spy. However, things improve when Sheryl hires SMS to rescue the Macross Galaxy refugee ships. Some of the more notable omissions include the episode about the Bird Human movie, which put Ranka on the map professionally. So often with Gundam compilation movies, you see them suffer from trying to tell the same story as the TV series and having to cut things to the point of incomprehensibility. But in this case, the The False Songstress succeeds by using its runtime to tell a new story that fits within the confines of two hours.