Akira was the first anime I saw that I knew as anime. Quite possibly caused me to actively seek out more of it's kind though very little was available at the time of it's US release.
Honestly, the story was a bit convoluted, you were kind of thrust into the middle of it and expect to know what was going on. Eventually they were able to flesh out more of the details as the movie progressed but it made for hard story telling and probably lost many less determined individuals. Looking on it, however, the story was quite good and had an interesting flow, kept me engaged.
Even many years later this anime was considered better than most, for it's time it was ground breaking. There were things they did here that no other company was willing to even attempt. This was also the tolling the bell for my own doom, no other animation was ever gong to satisfy me again. Vehicle and building designs were awesome, unique, and inventive. I so wanted one of those bikes when I was a teenager.
The music, the sounds, the overall flow of the movie that they gave were great. Rarely, if ever, do I rate sounds above the overall score due to my own lack of interest in them. Those that perhaps know me, will know what high praise that is.
Due to the same problem that the story suffered from, the issue where it seemed that you were only getting a single part, characters just had this incomplete feeling to them. Like you were supposed to know of them already and had no idea why they were doing what they were doing. It didn't help much and also caused you more thinking than the average American likes to do during their entertainment. There wasn't much growth and a lot of destruction but at least the characters were unique amongst themselves.
As stated before, this anime was state of the art of it's time, even today holds relevance for it's ground breaking techniques and designs. To this day I sometimes compare vehicle designs to what I saw in this title and think the probability of anime titles such as Ghost in the Shell were influenced by Akira.
For any true otaku or serious anime fan, this is a must see. You might not like it but it'll be worth your time in the end.