Intellectually, I am aware of how groundbreaking Akira was when it was first published in Japan in 1982. I know how it has influenced not just comic artists around the world since then, but writers and filmmakers as well. I can see the innovation in Otomo's layouts, in his cinematic sense of style, and in the breakneck pacing of the story.
However, it's now the year 2001, and while I give Otomo props for making something big and new nineteen years ago, most of the graphic storytelling techniques he pioneered in this work have become commonplace in today's comics and graphic novels. Thus I'm really only concerned with whether or not Akira holds up as a story in its own right, here and now. I am pleased to report that it does so quite admirably.