Watamote certainly hasn't lost the ability to surprise me.
insists on doing so after her offer is gently declined by the girls in charge. It's true that her original plan is to milk the project for five hours to get her through the entire day, but there's no doubt - she definitely wanted to be involved.
cuts herself with the X-Acto knife and flees for the nurse's office, blood fountaining from her hand. But for once Tomoko's misfortune is actually a lucky break, as she quite literally runs into Imai Megumi (unmistakably Nonaka Ai). Megumi-chan is the head of the Festival Committee but more relevantly, she ends up being something of a guardian angel for Tomoko. Yes, it's yet another random encounter with someone who treats Tomoko with real kindness - the series is full of those. But the depth of that kindness won't be apparent for a while, and in the meantime it's clear that Tomoko desperately longs to be a part of the cosplay experience. She even buys a cheap (what - oni maid?) costume at Donki so she can mail Yuu-chan a (ridiculously adorable) photo of herself in her "work" uniform, which backfires when Yuu decides she needs to visit the culture festival herself.
Tomoko's fantasy of what it'd be like if she was in it) she's feeling more alone than ever. But she actually has a good time when Yuu joins her the next day, struck by the remarkable revelation that it's actually possible to have fun in school if a friend is with her - they chat about Madoka Magica and eat bad food and generally waste the day pleasantly. There's still plenty of Tomoko dysfunction here: she still calls Yuu her "bitch friend" in her mind, and sees her cuteness as a way to gain social cred for herself. And her reaction when Yuu hugs her shows just how heartbreakingly desperate Tomoko is for any human contact whatsoever - being a horny teenager and pathologically lonely is an incendiary combination. But she genuinely, honestly has fun - and it's crystal clear that no matter how it might have seemed to Tomoko, Yuu isn't abandoning her.
wave goodbye to Yuu-chan as she goes off her with own friends, leaving Tomoko utterly alone again. Maybe it was worse to be reminded just how isolated Tomoko really is by giving her just a taste of what a normal adolescent experience could be like. But here Megumi transforms the entire feel of the episode when she sees Kuroko alone, obviously puts the pieces of what's happened with her class together, and dons the mascot costume long enough to give Tomoko a balloon and a hug. That's a moment most shows couldn't have pulled off without seeming sappy, but Watamote has earned its credibility with hard-won battle scars from wounds that cut deep. The revelation isn't so much that kindness exists even in Tomoko's world - we've known that all along - but that Tomoko is actually able to grasp that it's being offered, and however fleetingly to feel better about her life because of it. It may be a small victory but it's a genuine one, and it's almost enough to make you feel hopeful about her life.
ED4: 「そこらの着ぐるみの風船と私」by Velvet.kodhy