Mandalay nabs rights to 'Full Metal Panic'

Japanese manga series blends action, comedy

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," which is 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 yet set up "Panic" at a studio.

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

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