Star Wars was released to massive acclaim in term of it bringing the space opera genre to a modern audience and introducing a viewing public to the world of Jedi and Droids.
It received international release and would later be renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to fit into the framework of the larger anthology that George Lucas had envisioned.
In 1978, around a year later after the first film had hit the silver screen, there was released an LP with select scenes from the film narrated in the form of an audio-play of sorts, thus featuring what was essentially clips from the film turned into audio-format.
This LP was simply labelled Star Wars the Story and would not much later receive a Japanese release where, chronologically speaking, the Japanese fans would for the first time hear a Japanese dub of the film albeit in abridged audio-format and with the narrator's translated lines.
Nevertheless, this LP has appeared online and as such I have been able to take certain scenes and compare them to later dub-wise and medial iterations and see how they overall are difference or similar to each other. We will here be looking at chiefly Obi Wan Kenobi's meeting with his former apprentice turned Sith Lord, Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker, or merely Darth Vader as he was known back then since the concept of Anakin even existing and yet alone being the father of Luke had yet to be conceived by George Lucas himself as is evident by background material and the official novel.
Obi Wan Kenobi - The Japanese Voices:
In order to first lay the groundwork here is the original scene in English for which we then can compare:
Vader: I've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but a learner. Now I am the Master.
Obi-Wan: Only a master of evil, Darth.
Darth Vader: Your powers are weak, old man.
Obi-Wan: You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Darth Vader: You should not have come back.
Thus there are the following points that are worth noting and that will be focused on:
How Vader and Obi-Wan refer to one another. Obi-Wan calls Vader by what at the time is his forename and retroactively his ceremonial title as a Sith, and Vader mocks Obi-Wan for being a crippled "old man."
That Obi-Wan calls Vader a mere "master of evil," rather than overall becoming superior in power to him and that Obi-Wan finally hints at his ghostly return should Vader slay right on the spot.
And, lastly, their literal way of talking in terms of pronouns and grammatical traits.
Star Wars - The Story (1979)
Kono hi wo matte ita zo, Obi Wan.
Tsuni omae wa aeta na. Konnan ga megutte kita noda. Ano koro wa miuku dattaga, ima de wa watashi no hou ga ue da.
I have been awaiting this day, Obi-Wan.
At last I meet you. It is karmic that you return. Back then I was but inexperienced, but now I am the superior.
Akuji ni kakete wa na, Dâsu.
Only in terms of evil deeds, Darth!
Daibun odoroeta you da na.
It seems that you have weakened a lot.
Kachime wa nai zo, Dâsu. Watashi wa kirifuseta tokoro de, omae nado oyobi motsukanu chikara de, watashi wa yomigaeru.
You have no chance in winning, Darth. Should you cut me down, then shall I revive with an even greater power than that of you!
Modotte kuru beki de wa nakatta na.
You should not have returned then.
So, both Obi Wan and Vader use watashi, a pronoun that in fiction if used informally and within the context of Star Wars signifies an elevated sense of dignity. Furthermore they both use the informal pronoun omae towards each other signifying very much no respect whatsoever, but not one of great hostility either.
Vader talks about it being fate or "karmic", that Obi Wan returns to fight him and that he now is superior or has the upper hand. To which Obi Wan retorts that Vader is naught but a master of "evil deeds", rather than merely "evil." Both fencers use fairly masculine if archaic language with the old fashioned negation nu appearing instead of nai in some places.
Obi Wan's final line about returning stronger than ever should Vader cut him down is furthermore stipulated by Obi Wan flat out saying that he will be revived thus alluding to his appearance as a spirit in the later portions.
The first official film dub:
Matte ita zo, Obi Wan Kenôbi. Yatto saikai dekita na.
Kore de subete ga maku wo tojiru.
Katsute omae no deshi datta ore ga, Fôsu no shihaisha ni naru noda.
I have been waiting for you, Obi-Wan Kenobi. At last we are able to meet again.
This time it shall all come to an end.
Formerly I was your apprentice, but now it is me who have become the ruler of the Force!
Sou wa sasen zo, kono akuma me.
I shall not permit it, you damn devil!
Chikara ga odoroeta you dana.
It appears that your powers have weakened.
Washi ni wa katen zo. Tatoe taoshite mo, washi wa mugen no chikara wo ataerarete, yomigaeru no da.
You cannot win over me. Even if you fell me, then shall I be granted infinite powers and be resurrected!
Omae wo eien ni houmotte yaru.
I shall bury you forever!
Where the audio-play version was far more literal in its rendition of the original script, the dub makes it sound even more poetic and elaborates on some of the details. It also adds a lot of characteristics to the language versus the flavourless sound of "watashi ~ omae."
Vader uses ore, the masculine assertive informal pronoun, to underline his strength in comparison to his elderly ex-master and Obi Wan uses washi, the generic old folk pronoun, that gives him the aura of an old Jedi Knight. Vader uses omae to show spite towards his former master, where had they still been master and apprentice one would had expected to see Vader use watashi and anata (the polite 2nd person pronoun), which he indeed uses when talking to the Emperor - a scene that we will be covering in a later article.
Obi Wan outright calls Vader a "damn devil" or "cursed fiend" rather than "master of evil" in this version which adds more aggression to his otherwise cool composure when meeting his former Padawan. Vader likewise isn't merely a "master" now, but a "ruler" of the "Force." Hence Obi-Wan's angry remark.
Now, no longer does Obi Wan say that the power which he will achieve surpasses Vader's comprehension, but that it is simply "infinite" or "unlimited" which strangely presages the appearance of Palpatine's much memed line in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, when the wrinkled Sith Master blasts Mace Windu with Force Lightning.
Again, here Obi-Wan states his spiritual resurrection, to which Vader remarks that we shall perform the last rites and make them eternal.
Star Wars: A New Hope (manga):
Matte ita zo Obi Wan
Kore de youyaku kecchaku ga tsuku
Izen wa anata ni manabimashitaga ima yara watashi wa subete wo osameta!
I have been waiting, Obi Wan
With this will it at last be brought to a conclusion
Previously I was under Your gracious tutelage, but now I have mastered everything!
– daga osameta hou ga modotte oran na
– However, you can’t return back to studying then, what?
Mohaya sekijitsu no chikara wa mirarenu!!
You have weakened.
Already now I am unable to observe your power of old!
Onushi ni wa wakarumai na
Tatoe kono mi ga horobiyou tomo
Ooinaru riryoku no rinne ni kaiki shi sara naru chikara wo ete modotte kuru zo
You still do not want to understand, do you.
Indeed, even if this body should perish,
I would return having acquired great power from returning from the samsara of the Force.
Otonashiku hikkonde oreba yoi mono wo!!
Hmph! It is best for you to obediently withdraw all together!
Of all the adaptations of the scene, this one is the most extensive. The manga adaptation with text and art by Hisao Tamaki, released in 1999, revised the confrontation between Obi Wan and Vader and had them clash in a pyrotechnical quick-draw display of swordplay.
As can be see Obi Wan once more uses washi, but also uses onushi, an archaic 2nd person pronoun that in tone is the same as omae, but fits samurai-style speech as well, and Vader starts with using the desu mode of speech, i.e. teineigo (polite speech) aspect of keigo (respectful speech), but drops it altogether when they start attacking each other, thus very much merely being Vader putting up a facade of being reverential towards his former master. Obi Wan counters this by rejoining that this "gracious tutelage" (my rendering of Vader's polite speech) would very much prove futile upon his obstreperous student.
Vader's comment about Obi Wan's waning might of the past is even more scathing than just calling him an oldster, and Obi Wan's line about reappearing stronger with the implied nature of becoming a ghost has taken a much more Buddhistic nuance with him mentioning the great nature of the Force as being akin to the Wheel of Rebirth, Samsara.
Furthermore, Vader's "you should not have come back" in the original becomes a cold inveigh against Obi Wan rather than merely either telling him to perish or that he should not have met with Vader.
Vader's speech as well as Obi Wan's is much more archaic. Vader uses the existential verb oru and couples it with the positive particle yoi to produce orebayoi (you would/should be better have been), therefore giving him the grave aura of a lord of the Sith, and adding more gravitas to his confrontation with Obi Wan, who here uses the volitional negative wakarumai (does not want to know), along with Vader using the archaic negation nu rather than nai, as seen in one of the previous versions.
I prefer this version in some regards even if it is more an adaptation of Lucas' original script, since it adds a bit more depth to the characters and their personalities as former apprentice and master become more evident in the way that they interact with each other.