Ah, who doesn't love a movie that starts with a city blowing up? Akira is one of those movies that starts with a bang, and keeps at it for the entire film, starting with its plot and including it's themes and animation. In many anime circles, Akira is considered to be a classic and one of the defining moments in anime history. If you're interested in anime, it's usually required watching, not because a person may like it, but for educational purposes. It's kinda like Neon Genesis Evangelion; you watch it because everyone else has and makes reference to it, even in university lectures*. Except I think more people argue about Evangelion and like Akira more**.
Let me make something clear though: Akira is not a kids movie. Subject matter includes sex, drugs and teenage biker gangs beating the crap out of each other. Which then becomes exploding peoples heads and exploding cities. And that's the simple stuff.
Akira also boasts some interesting theories about where human knowledge and creativity comes from, theories which are dwarfed by the topics that occur in the seven huge volumes of graphic novel that the movie just skims over. The movie takes the basics of the original manga and condenses it into a compact but coherent and spunky whole.
Yes, subject matter can be a tad heavy, but Akira is in no way boring. Rather, it is packed with action, with a lively script and animation that has held up over time. Also, the voice acting for both the English and Japanese cast is really superb. I highly recommend it to viewers, anime lovers or no, new or old, who want something that will take them seriously, is fast-paced and full of action, and who aren't afraid of blood and gritty parts of reality.
I also recommend that you pick the language settings that are the easiest for you to follow along, because you really don't want to miss out for a second when watching Akira.
*at least, they do in mine. But then, I went to a pretty progressive university with courses on cyborg fiction in English that included a lot of movies, and a course on comics in culture studies where we studied speed lines in manga and had Ty Templeton as a guest speaker.
** However, that's just my opinion.