Star Wars is, of course, an international phenomenon, and during my time in Japan I’ve come to realize that the franchise might be even more popular here than it is in the west. Sure, in America you have much the mocked Star Wars fruits, but do you have a Star Wars vacuum cleaner? What about Star Wars chopsticks (that light up)? Can you buy a X-Wing inspired Star Wars pen and pen stand (for a combined price of over $2,000)? Star Wars dishes, high-end Star Wars doormats, Star Wars kimonos. You name it, Japan has it. It’s pretty dope.
In fact, Japan getting exclusive Star Wars goodies is not a new phenomenon, just check this out.
This is the Japanese edition of the Story of Star Wars LP, a 1978 record that summarizes the…story of Star Wars (duh) by combining audio and dialog from the film alongside original narration that helps to cut down the running time to something that would fit on an LP (and work without the aide of visuals).
Now, a lot of countries got this record, it was released all across North America, and also in several European countries. However, all those countries, no matter what their native language, got the album in English, even if the movie came out in their country dubbed.
This was not the case with Japan.
When the time came for the album to come out in Japan, Fox actually went out of their way to release a Japanese language version of the record, complete with all new Japanese narration, as well as the original Japanese dub of the film.
I don’t know what made Japan so special that they got a uniquely localized version of this record, but I think it probably had more to do with the LP buying habits of the Japanese people than the runaway success of Star Wars in the country. During the late 70s and early 80s, these “audio drama” types of records were oddly popular in Japan. In my time browsing the used LP bins here, I’ve seen audio drama LPs for countless TV shows, feature-length anime, sporting events and even wrestling matches. The releases dry up sometime in the mid-80s, I assume home video killed it.
I’m going to be real for a second. Even though I’ve lived in this country for two years now, my Japanese is still dogshit. In fact, calling it dogshit might be an insult to dogshit. So don’t ask me how loyal to the source material this translation is or anything like that.
So yeah, when I listen to this I can probably only pick up every 10th sentence, if that. But despite my ultra-limited understanding of the language, I still find this record an interesting listen. Not only am I using it to help with my Japanese, it’s also fun to listen to hear the dubbed voices and the stylistic choices they went with for each of them. Han Solo and Obi Wan sound like rough samurais (not surprising) while Luke still comes off like a whiny idiot. Most interesting, to me at least, is that C-3P0 still speaks with a British accent.
In case you’re wondering, R2-D2 remains unchanged. Bleeps and bloops are international.
Special thanks to the boyfriend for translating “may the force be with you” into Japanese. In case you’re wondering, you pronounce that “o-su to tomoni arankoto.”