'Full Metal Panic' is Mandalay manga

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Mandalay Pictures has acquired theatrical rights to and will develop a big-screen version of "Full Metal Panic," a Japanese manga series that blends action, comedy and high school romance.

The property derives from writer Shoji Gatoh's series about a teenage anti-terrorist commando named Sousuke Sagara who is given the mission to protect a high school girl with mystical powers.

"Panic," set in a world almost exclusively without adults, is known for mixing visceral action with wry comedy.

Zac Efron's name has surfaced in connection with "Panic," with the actor holding a conversation on the project. Efron, already a heartthrob among the teen audiences to whom the project could appeal, is also honing the action-adventure side of his career with a potential attachment to the Warner Bros. adventure "Jonny Quest."

He's next up in "17 Again," the upcoming New Line movie about an adult who goes back to high school to rewrite his life.

Mandalay, which counts the environmental drama "Peaceable Kingdom" among its projects, has a first-look deal at Universal but has not set up "Panic" at a studio.

Born as a serialized novel from Gatoh and illustrator Shiki Douji, "Panic" was developed in the early 2000s as a Japanese anime by the Asian firm Kyoto Animation and eventually yielded a spinoff series.

An English-language version was produced and released in the U.S. on home video by ADV Films. (partialdiff)
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