In my pocket review that I wrote for Akira nearly eight years ago now, I called it "the ultimate cyberpunk anime." What is ultimately astounding is that the title is still very worthy even today. Certainly, there have been many entries since--from Ghost in the Shell, which I found essentially toothless in comparison, to Lain, a worthy but altogether different take on the genre. However, nothing has compared to Akira in terms of how much scope, depth, action, and sheer insanity can be packed into 2 hours and 5 minutes. No doubt that other shows have covered similar topics, but ultimately, Akira is a masterpiece in that it condenses a huge epic manga into a very short time frame while still being accessible to newcomers. Granted, those newcomers may feel things are a bit muddled, but ultimately that pulls the viewer back in, because by the end the viewer wants to understand the mystery known as Akira. It's this mystery, compounded by a rather lousy dub job that toured the US and over twelve years of speculation and backlash, that has made Akira into a misunderstood classic of anime.
Akira -- language, brief nudity, EXTREME violence -- A