It has to be better than all the series I've seen that I don't think should be in my rankings. In addition, it has to lack any critical flaw which would merit removing it from my rankings. For instance, Read or Die has the critical flaw of the enemy sparing the heroes so often that the fights become lopsidedly stupid. Negima! has the critical flaw of being mostly filler and cutting important segments of the manga. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has the critical flaw of being too boring and dragging things out beyond their natural scope. Even if a show is mainly good, if it has a glaring problem it's not something I can recommend to others with confidence.
I want three shows that, once you watch the first couple episodes, you're excited to see all the rest as soon as possible. It should be obvious that this is a must-see. It should be head and shoulders better than the competition. I've watched in full every series in my rankings. I've also watched in full plenty of other shows not in my rankings, but many of those shows felt like a chore to keep watching halfway through. Or they just felt like a nice diversion, never rising to the level of excitement about them. Just because I'm willing to watch a show like Wake Up, Girls all the way to the ending doesn't mean it's great. So what will Soredemo, Hitsugi and Mekaku have to do to get into my rankings?
Basically, they have to leave a stronger impression than any of these other shows that didn't make the cut:
Devil Hunter Yohko
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
Vision of Escaflowne
Kiddy Grade/ Kiddy Girl- And
Asobi ni Iku Yo
Seiken no Blacksmith
Ga Rei Zero
Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinisai!/They Are My Noble Masters
Kodomo ni Jikan
Magic Knight Rayearth
These are also shows I've watched in full, and thought were pretty good. They just couldn't quite make it over the hump, and convince me that the whole world should see these series at least once before they die. (Ideally, every good show should be watched at least twice, because you can catch more things, like clever foreshadowing, the second time around than you saw the first. Also, if a show can't be watched twice and still be fun, it isn't a great show, so that's a good indicator that if rewatching something sounds unappealing, it shouldn't even be in my rankings in the first place.)
These were good shows, they taught me things I didn't think of before, made me laugh and cry, had great music, great art, or gripping plots. You can't beat these shows that easily. They're like Pacifistas from One Piece -- sure they may be generics, but it took the whole Strawhat crew just to take down one of them. They're by no means pushovers. If Soredemo, Mekaku or Hitsugi want to beat these shows, they're going to have to leave a stronger impression on me than any of the above. Alternatively, an older series could enter my rankings from my 'lost world' search. Since I haven't watched those series in full, they may have some missing potential I haven't taken into account yet. Perhaps Star Ocean EX, DN Angel, Black Cat or someone could fill in the gap. That's pretty much grasping at straws though, because even after three episodes of those series I didn't feel hooked on them, like they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. Which means if they are great shows, it will have to be for something that happens after episode 3.
My rule of skimming the top 1/3 of shows that I've watched at least three episodes of to put into my rankings worked well for years, because there were always more good shows to add to the list, but I've been truly flummoxed when it came to reaching 160 this time around. I just could not find 160 shows worth watching, worth endorsing, no matter how often I pored over my list. As a result, once I finally do reach 160, I'm going to just give up on this system entirely. Like I've been doing already, I'll just add the one or two good shows I come across per season, and let the numbers be uneven. This also means there will never be a reason to drop one of my shows from this list again. If you're good, you're guaranteed a slot on my list, no matter how many shows are better than you.
It's possible none of the remaining spring shows will merit inclusion, which means I'll never have a nice even round number to my rankings again. Rather than adding some shows via affirmative action just to get a nice round number, I'm going to hold out until I see true quality that genuinely catches my eye. The integrity of my rankings is more important than their aesthetics.
Even without the spring season, there are good prospects to fill the next three slots -- Amagi Brilliant Park, by Kyoto animation and the author of Full Metal Panic!. Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai, based off of the best visual novel of 2013. Terra Formers, based off of the hit manga. Savannah Game, with its interesting battle royale premise. Grisaia no Kaijutsu, based off of the award-winning visual novel trilogy. Inevitably, I will reach 160 shows, one way or another. It's just going to take a little longer than I had anticipated.