“Dragon Ball Z” is returning to theaters. In preparation for the new “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” movie, Fathom events is bringing back “Fusion Reborn” and “Bardock: Father of Goku” with remastered English dubs for special screening events. We spoke with Monica Rial, who voices Bulma in the “Dragon Ball” Z and Super series, about the movies and her work as an anime voice actor.
G33k-HQ: The “Dragon Ball Z” movies “Fusion Reborn” and “Bardock: Father of Goku” are returning to theaters with a remastered English dub. What was it like bringing these classic DBZ movies back?
Monica: Well, Bulma doesn’t have a whole lot to do, unfortunately, but they’re fascinating movies! I’ve watched them to keep up with what’s going on in the universe and I love the backstories we get. I love the characters in “Dragon Ball” and I think they’re such well-thought out characters that it’s fascinating to see their backstories and where they’re coming from. I think it’s great that they’re doing these double features and letting people go and see them on the big screen for the first time in such a long time. I think this is a real cool thing and I love that the fans are getting this opportunity!
G33k-HQ: There’s also the new “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” movie coming out soon. What can you tell us about that?
Monica: I don’t know that there’s much I can say, but I am excited that we’ve seen the character designs for Bulma and they’re super cute – I’m glad that she’s a part of it! We’re all really excited to see how it turns out, and it’s neat seeing where your heroes and their nemesis come from.
G33k-HQ: Dragon Ball is a series that (much like its characters) keeps coming back, so you’ve been voicing Bulma for quite some time. What would you say her character arc has been like?
Monica: I love the growth that Bulma has experienced. I started with the “Curses of the Blood Rubies” Movie, so I started as young Bulma, and going through “Kai” and now the new movies, watching that level of growth from a young girl wanting to find the Dragon Balls to get a boyfriend into this intelligent woman who’s such a smart, powerful figure that all these strong men are terrified of her. I think the dynamic is so good that she’s such a strong figure, in touch with her feminine side but unafraid to tell men where to put it – she’s so intelligent and such a great role model. I’m glad that’s the growth she had. I’d love for Chichi and Videl to have more of a role than just a maternal aspect, but I’m glad that Bulma has more of a role than just a maternal caregiver – for not just her family but everyone in the show.
G33k-HQ: And how would you say your performance as her has changed over the years?
Monica: When I started in the beginning with “Kai” I took over for Tiffany Vollmer and I really tried hard to pay homage to her performance so it wasn’t an abrupt change for people. I went back and watched a whole lot of it so I could be sure that I wasn’t just regurgitating her performance, but giving my own performance while still staying true. When we got into the Buu Saga is when I started putting more of my own self into it. Then we get into the new movies and “Super” and that’s when we had new material and I had the opportunity to make her my own. This is the first show where there’s no other cast other than the Japanese cast; we’re not competing with another English cast, so it’s nice to be able to do your own thing and not worry about matching up to what’s come before you. As a result the character has become more fleshed out because we can finally put ourselves into these characters 100%
G33k-HQ: Moving away from “Dragon Ball,” you also voice Tsuyu, AKA Froppy, in “My Hero Academia.” What has been your experience voicing her, and what do you try to bring to the character?
Monica: You know, voicing Froppy has been super fun. Working in anime, people always assume that we get to make crazy sounds or do silly voices all day long, and the truth is it’s usually just a variation of your own voice. I’m not doing any crazy cartoony voices normally, so when the auditions came through and I saw the more zany characters it was like “this is my opportunity to do more of the cartoony style that we saw as kids.” I’m not sure where the voice came from, but it came out of me and I’m so glad I got the role because she’s such a fun character. She’s just such a good-hearted heroine, everything she feels is 100% honest and true … she’s such a sweet little frog girl. It’s also challenging because we’re doing simul-dubs, so we’re working constantly on it, but it’s so rewarding because she’s such a wonderful character.
G33k-HQ: What has your experience with the fans been like?
Monica: The fandom has been fantastic! Everybody is so incredibly supportive and I can’t even express how loved I feel as a result of the support of the fandom. I think that it’s awesome that you can go to conventions and meet people face-to-face and geek out over the stuff that we find cool or the experiences we’ve had that no one will really understand other than the fans of the show. So I can get super excited over something that happened in “Dragon Ball Super” and no one in my family will get it, but the fans can share that excitement and that’s truly a unique experience. The “Dragon Ball” fandom is such a great family, and I’m glad that the “My Hero” fandom kind of overlaps with it as well. I love that it’s all-encompassing. too – when I first started going out there it was a lot of dudes, now 20 years later you’ve got grown-ups and elderly and children and boys and girls and every race and religion and it doesn’t matter because everyone has come together in celebration of anime, and it’s really touching to see that!
G33k-HQ: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Monica: I’d like to say: thanks for watching and thanks for being so supportive! I hope I get the chance to meet everyone out on the road on conventions. More than anything, thank you. I’m so blessed that I get to wake up every day to do something that I love and I wouldn’t be able to do that if it weren’t for each and every one of you guys. So thank you, I appreciate it, and I will do my very best for every one of you.
We’d like to once more thank Monica Rial for taking the time to speak with us. The “Dragon Ball Z” double feature will be in theaters November 3rd and 5th, and you can get your tickets in advance from Fathom Events’ website.