First of all, each volume is like 400 pages. So I counted each as a separate book.
Second, the drawing is intricate, detailed, and infers so much motion and action. It’s really beautiful and expressive in places. Otomo does apocalyptic incredibly well.
Speaking of action, I don’t think there’s any moment in the roughly 2,400 pages of Akira when something big isn’t happening. There are moments of expository, but otherwise the characters are always in transition between action scenes or are engaged in action. For a couple volumes Kaneda disappears from the plot, and I don’t even notice until some weird encounter with Kei, and then I couldn’t remember what had happened with him in the first place.
Third, after the second volume, the story diverges immensely from what I remember of the movie (having seen it when I was a teenager). And then toward the end of volume 5 and parts of volume 6 it gets back to the movie, but only in snatches, because I don’t exactly remember how the movie ended. I really shouldn’t be comparing the graphic novel which I just read to the movie which I haven’t seen in like 15-20 years.
A quick point: during the Akira read, I considered a new finished-book numbering, but by the time I finished I went back to the original one. It only took a couple of hours to go through an entire volume, but, again, each volume was about 400 pages. And there were so many words. So why not count each as a separate book?