I just now saw Akira for the first time. And, yeah, I'm pretty much blown away.
There's really not much to say about the film that hasn't already been said, and I'm sure I'm not articulate enough to do it justice. I will say that I was absolutely stunned by the quality of the animation (pretty much the first thing I look at, the geek that I am), which blows a lot of the anime you see today right out of the water. It's hard to believe that film this was made twenty years ago in 1987.
I also really like Katsuhiro Otomo's art style and character designs. They're only barely recognizable as anime, and definitely stand out. In fact, the pacing, dialog, and other factors are so radically different from mainstream Japanimation that one critic I've read categorized Akira (along with the works of Miyazaki, Oshii, and Evangelion) as non-anime. While to me, an American aficionado, Japanese animation is more or less a single continuum, I have to wonder what distinctions are seen by animators and viewers in Japan.