I reviewed Midsummer Haze, the 2006 English translation of a 2004 freeware Japanese visual novel called Manatsu no Kagerou, as part of my project to review nearly all of the Japanese visual novels translated into English for the al|together 2005, 2006, and 2008 festivals (see full article collection). However, Midsummer Haze was by far the most difficult to get running of all 32 novels (including one that had been pulled from the al|together 2005 festival due to the creator opposing the English translation effort). The main barrier, as I explain below, was that the English version was a patch for a Japanese executable that is no longer available to download. In this post, I discuss how I found the original Japanese game to make it possible for me to review the English translation.

The Story

29 of the 31 al|together visual novel translations from 2005, 2006, and 2008 were English versions of the original Japanese games. By this I mean that the game file, the executables, are entirely English versions of the novel, separate from the Japanese versions. However, two of the translations were patches. The patches modify the original Japanese games, so the Japanese game is a necessary run condition.

I reviewed the first of these cases, al|together 2005’s io [Christmas Eve], in December 2022. The original patch for that one no longer works because the patch applied to the penultimate version of the Japanese game and not the final version, but I explained in the review that a modified patch is readily available and the original Japanese game remains available for download.

The second case is Midsummer Haze. Midsummer Haze has the reverse issue that we see in io [Christmas Eve]. The original 2006 English patch works as intended so long as you have the Japanese game. Unfortunately, the Japanese game is no longer available.

The Japanese game was originally hosted on Vector (many of the Japanese games that were translated for al|together were, and remain, hosted on Vector). The patch was intended to fetch the original Japanese game from its Vector download link. You can imagine how that installation strategy fails when the game is no longer available at that download link.

Midsummer Haze installer offers to either download Japanese game to patch automatically or instructs users how to download the game for themselves. Because the expected download link no longer works, both options will fail.

The last working Wayback Machine capture of the official Japanese site for Midsummer Haze was made in 2008. I found evidence in the form of a forum thread that the Midsummer Haze installer was no longer finding the original Japanese game as of August 2009. Midsummer Haze was gone before I was even aware of al|together (I learned about the project in 2010 or 2011).

No Japanese game. No English version.

I started my al|together review project here at The New Leaf Journal in April 2021 – about 12-13 years since the Midsummer Haze Japanese game was last officially available online. When I became aware of the patch issue (that probably occurred in late 2021 or early 2022), I thought there might be a chance that I would not be able to review Midsummer Haze at all. Moreover, even visual novel fans on the Visual Novel Database Forums were unsure about the whereabouts of the original Japanese game.

As I explained in a Leaflet post, I came into contact with another visual novel fan who was working on preserving the Insani and al|together visual novel translations. This person reminded me of the issue with Midsummer Haze, which was at that point the only unplayable novel of the al|together set. I decided to try to get to the bottom of it. I first confirmed that there was no archived download link (I have in some cases found Wayback Archive captures of download links). Then, over the course of a couple days, I tried different queries in multiple search engines – but there is very little published material about Midsummer Haze. After my initial lack of success, it occurred to me to start trying to angle my search terms to look for torrents. Torrents were the primary mode of distribution for al|together novels (although most of the 2006 and 2008 sets are also available as direct downloads, including the Midsummer Haze patch). Perhaps someone created a torrent link to Manatsu no Kagerou, the base Japanese game I needed.

My torrent idea quickly yielded the following link: https://sukebei.nyaa.si/view/3420785.

The torrent is described as a “compilation torrent containing all the visual novels translated for the al|together 2006 festival.” This sounds promising in theory, but I note that the official torrents for all of those games remain available and the official direct downloads remain available in fourteen of sixteen cases, with the exceptions being Red Shift and Flood of Tears. Before wasting my time trying to download the torrent, I wanted to make sure that what I was looking for would be in the torrent. The bottom of the page contains a searchable file list. I found “Manatsu no Kagerou (Midsummer Haze)” and checked the file. Clicking the folder reveals two files:

  • MidsummerHazeSetup[Kyuuen][AT2006].exe (1.4 MiB)
  • manakage101.exe (4.9 MiB)

The first file is the translation patch, which I already had. The second file was unfamiliar – but an .exe with the name indicated in the now-dead Vector download link. I believed that I was over the target and began my effort to download the torrent before I contacted my fellow al|together fan with the information.

The torrenting process was slow. Not many people have tried to access this torrent, and only a few tried to download it. However, after running my torrent client (qBittorrent) on and off for about 48 hours, the download started and I finally had all the files (my contact managed to download the torrent at about the same time). I already had every file in the torrent except one, so I navigated to the Midsummer Haze folder. I explain the process of how to actually run this Windows-only game and patch on Linux in my full game review, but you can rest assured that I was able to confirm that manakage101.exe is, in fact, the original Japanese Manatsu no Kagerou executable, and I was able to successfully patch it with the English patch.

Instructions in the Midsummer Haze installer regarding putting the Japanese version of the visual novel in the same folder as the English patch.
The failed installer does provide the correct instructions provided that you can find the executable that was formerly available on Vector. I described the install process on Linux with WINE in my Midsummer Haze review.

(Note: It can also be downloaded from a MEGA drive maintained by the person who inspired me to find Manatsu no Kagerou in the first place.)

Research Summary

Had it not been for my idea to combine terms relevant to the Japanese exe I was looking for and torrents, I would likely have been unable to find Manatsu no Kagerou and we would be missing a review from my al|together project (I forget the exact terms I used to find the torrent link, but I did come across it through a general-use search engine). Far be it from me to toot my own horn, but I give myself credit for a fine research effort here – less strenuous than my study of the version history of A Winter’s Tale, but ultimately more significant.

Initial title screen for Midsummer Haze, a visual novel. The background is an outline sketch of a girl'sbedroom. Under the title there is text indicating that this is ver. 1.01 of the novel. Options in descending order read New Game, Continue, Endings, and Finish.

I will note that it is possible that Manatsu no Kagerou is easier to find for people who can read Japanese and run Japanese-language searches. While I doubt there are many Japanese users and sites with links to a short-lived and long-forgotten freeware visual novel, it is entirely possible that it is more available in Japanese searches than in English searches. If we have any Japanese-language users among readers, feel free to let me know if you can find Japanese links to the original manakage101.exe.

Interesting Issues

The translation of Manatsu no Kagerou ultimately came with the creator’s blessing – the English version was noted on the last capture of the original Japanese website for Manatsu no Kagerou. However, the terms listed in the patch prohibit alternative means of distributing both the patch (from al|together 2006) and the original Japanese game (from its official download link on Vector). While many of the original sites for 2000s visual novel creators and circles are no longer online, I noted that most of the games that were translated for al|together 2006 remain available in the same places they were available when they were released. Why was Manatsu no Kagerou taken down. I know not. Perhaps the creator took it down out of a desire to prevent people from downloading and playing it in the future. Perhaps something happened to the creator or there was some issue with Vector’s terms of service (note that I only know Vector as a source of Japanese game and software downloads, I am not familiar with how it works beyond that). We will likely never know the answer.

My intention here was to play all of the English al|together novels and to use my review project to highlight the worthwhile efforts of all of the Japanese indie visual novel creators and the people who made these games available in English. To that extent, I am glad that I was ultimately able to make Midsummer Haze work and share my impressions with readers – notwithstanding the fact that its central mechanic very nearly drove me insane (you can learn about that in my Midsummer Haze review).