This oldie still has the same charm and charisma as some of the other older, but also popular ones. Recca, a flame-style ninja charges himself to protect a nice, but clueless healing girl, Yanagi, who he constantly calls hime (princess). Along the way, old rivals and new ones join him, and form the ninja group Hokage, to protect her from evil wanting to take over the world.
If this sounds familiar, you are correct, as many others have done something similar, but this one did it extremely well, and the story is top-notch which still enthralls me today. Besides all the Naruto references (but not really, they are just coincidences) the first major arc consists of a fighting tournament. While it isn't bad and we see the Hokage grow, it seemed (at least to me) a retread of Yu Yu Hakusho. Now, this isn't bad, but the constant reminder and the almost chapter by chapter overlay of what those protagonists do distracted me.
Thankfully, the final arc was well done, as we see all the major wrap ups and really showing how everyone grew. Not only that, but the climax has a very good twist to it and I was surprised at the sudden turn-around. All in all, great character development and a good story throughout the series.
FYI: This manga is the predecessor to MAR, another great fighting manga (even have a review on it :))