Per My Brother
When it comes to working in the anime genre, nobody works harder than Monica Rial. She’s currently listed as the most prolific Anime Voice Actor in the United States, having worked on more than 275 different titles. As a Voice Actor, she has regularly worked for ADV Films, Funimation Entertainment, Sentai Filmworks and Bang Zoom! Entertainment, among other companies. She has done some writing, by adapting scripts from translations, as well as directing anime. She also does voice-over work on videogames, recently completing Borderlands 2, Ms. Splosion Man, Comic Jumper and many others. Oftentimes she doesn’t even know the titles of the projects she’s working on, but relies on her little brother, who frequently picks out her voice in the video games he plays.
How old were you when you decided to become a voice actor?
– “That’s kind of a hard question to answer, because I never really decided to become a voice actor. I decided to become an actor, and that happened when I was about 12 years old. I was a Prima ballerina and I hurt my knee, and ended up not being able to pursue a professional dance career, so I had to think about what I had wanted to do. At that point, I had found theater and used my dance technique on the stage, and went into musicals and kind of grew from there. I went to college with a gentleman named Jason Douglas, and he had mentioned there was a company in Houston, of all places, that was dubbing anime. So, I went and auditioned and it just happened. It fell into my lap, quite literally.”
What was the first performance you were in?
– “In theater, I was taking lessons, and I was cast in these after-school-special plays. One was called Who Says I Can’t Drink? Then there was one called Tell Me It’s Going To Be Wonderful. They were all about teen pregnancy and Just Say No… I got to go on a mini-tour, where we did plays at high schools. I was 12-year-old getting pulled out of my middle school to go perform for the highschoolers and tell them not to do drugs. I didn’t even know what drugs were. It was an interesting first experience to have.”
How did you get into writing for anime?
– “It was with David Williams at ADV. We were working on a show and I remember the scripts were really, really bad. They were written way under flap. Like, they said five words with 28 flaps. So, you had to make up words. We’re completely making things up on the fly. I’d been working at ADV for a while and said, ‘Why don’t you give me a try? It can’t be any worse than what you got. You can pay me half of whatever you pay them.’ So, David let me do it. He was really good about helping me figure it out and introducing me to the translators.”
Were you reading the scripts in Japanese or translated to English?
– “Translated. I’ve been able to pick up certain words… I would love to be able to, but I have a hard enough time keeping up with my Spanish. I can’t imagine having to keep up with Spanish and Japanese. I’d probably get more practice with my Japanese in Dallas, of all places.”
Out of all your characters, which one have you had the most fun voicing?
– “It depends on what aspect. If you’re asking what character has been the most fun in a voice sense, characters like Mey-Ren in Black Butler and Kyoko in Full Metal Panic has a very weird voice. Those are the most fun, just because they are so out there. As far as character wise, I really like the character-driven shows like RahXephon and Noir and even the comedies like Sgt. Frog, where you have these great characters that carry the story.”
Have you worked any crazy voice-over jobs?
– “When I go back home, I do spots for Texas Motor Speedway. Usually, when you go in to record, it’s going to be quiet. Or, if it’s anime, you hear the Japanese. But these guys are playing blaring rock music, that’s why it sounds like you’re yelling. Because you are. You have to yell over it.”
What’s the weirdest direction you’ve been given, as a voice actor?
– “There’s a director at ADV — whom I absolutely adore — and he, for a while, was giving some really obscure, strange direction. He would give you a color, ‘That was mauve, but I need you to be more pink. More bright and fluffy.’ As obscure and weird as it sounded, it always made sense and you always got it. He had actor’s ESP or something… And then when I was doing Hello Kitty’s Animation Theater — I was doing the voice of Hello Kitty — my director would always say, ‘Baby powder,’ and for some reason, the thought of baby powder would make her voice higher and sweeter and softer than it was before. Most people are really good at describing what they want.”
What’s the oddest place where your dialog was used?
– “I guess the weirdest one… My brother plays this computer game called Tribes: Ascend. He says, ‘You’re in this game.’ I’d never heard of it. Then he says, ‘Monica, I’m your brother. I’ve been playing it forever. At first, I didn’t know it was you. Speak with a British accent.’ So, I did. And he said, ‘That’s it!’ And then I remembered. She wasn’t very exciting, she just said what was going on in the game. I had forgotten about that one. He said, “I just feel stupid, because I’ve been playing the game for three weeks and I just realized it was you.'”