The movie consists of 2,212 shots and 160,000 single pictures, 2-3 times more than usual, using 327 different colors (another record in animation film), 50 of which were exclusively created for the film. The reason for this statistic is that most of the movie takes place at night, a setting that is traditionally avoided by animators because of the increased color requirements.
This was one of the first Japanese anime films to have the character's voices recorded before they were animated. While this is the typical practice in U.S. animation, in Japan the animation is generally produced first.
Originally released in the U.S. by Streamline Pictures in 1990. A decade later, Pioneer Entertainment (now Geneon Entertainment) obtained the license to AKIRA and spent roughly $1 million in restoring the film's audio and video quality, as well as recording an all-new, more accurate English dub.
Katsuhiro Ôtomo originally created the AKIRA manga as an homage to manga artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama, who created Tetsujin nijûhachi-go (1963) (Tetsujin 28). Both AKIRA and Tetsujin 28 have a main character named Shotaro Kaneda and Akira's no. 28 designation compares with the robot's no.28 designation.
The 1940s-style song heard following the terrorist bombing is "Tokyo Shoe Shine Boy", released in 1951 by jazz singer Teruko Akatsuki. The song was not included in either the Japanese or American releases of the soundtrack; however, it had previously appeared on the release of the soundtrack from MASH (1970).
Because Madman Entertainment Pty. Ltd. licensed Akira through Manga Entertainment rather than Pioneer/Geneon, the Australian DVD release of Akira has both the original Streamline dub (which Manga has the license to) and Pioneer/Geneon's new English dub.
Akira has aired three times in on the Sci-Fi channel in North America: The original Streamline Pictures dub aired in the mid 90's and the re-dubbed Pioneer version aired on December 7th 2013 and on December 20th 2014.