No Return ~ Erleuchtung ( German: Enlightenment ) is the thirteenth and final episode of the Elfen Lied anime series. Series directed by Mamoru Kanbe; created by Lynn Okamoto; produced by ARMS Corporation.
Rescued from the water and drowning, Nana is held tightly by Kurama and covered in his coat. She awakens, overjoyed that her Papa has come back. In a flashback, Kurama drops Bando off in their small speedboat and sees Nana plunge into the water. Getting a chill at thinking what might have happened if he had been later to the scene, Kurama admonishes Nana, reminding her that his instructions were for her to move far away. Nana knows the truth is too much to explain right then, and so asks him why he is there.
At Maple House, Mayu worries that something has happened to Kouta and the others, to make them so late in coming back. Yuka confided in a shocked and surprised Mayu that Kouta's father and Kanae were murdered in front of him, by a still-unknown killer who had many more victims. Kouta spent a year in the hospital as a result, and (to the best of her knowledge at that point) he does not remember anything about that time in his life. Yuka speculates and realizes that Kouta's kindness to girls in trouble stems from his inability to save Kanae. Yuka then chastises herself for her berating, anger, and jealousy towards Kouta, even though she knows very well that his kindness to other girls and trauma-spawned lack of memories is not meant to denigrate her. She feels she is not the fit mother in Mayu's description. Mayu for her part just asks if Yuka thinks she is in love with Kouta, an assertion with which Yuka agrees.
At a safe house for their operation, Isobe informs Chief Kakuzawa by phone that Lucy killed Shirakawa, and that Mariko's vectors no longer work. Kakuzawa for his part says that he may still be able to use even a powerless Mariko. Chafing at the Chief's cold nature, Isobe openly puzzles on Mariko, who he regards as a monster, actually being the daughter of Kurama, a man he respects. Outside Mariko's room, he gives the soldier guarding her instructions to use any force or means necessary with no hesitation, though this is unclear as to whether or not he meant a recovered Mariko or an attack by Lucy. Unknown to him, Mariko has now heard and muses on her family name of Kurama.
Nana stands with Kurama on the beach and confirms that she can sense Mariko, and asks why he must kill her. When Kurama simply explains that she is his daughter, Nana puzzles at this idea, just before she also senses Lucy coming closer even as the other two sense each other as well. Lucy realizes Mariko has noticed her, while Mariko smiles and thinks that Lucy must want very badly to die. Isobe returns to the area where the supposedly wounded Mariko is housed, only to hear gunfire and then see the soldier watching over her torn to pieces. Mariko moves with ease out of her room, announcing the return of her vectors after Nana's disabling attack, and the near approach of Lucy, a fact she seems to relish.As Lucy walks up to the tower-top where Mariko is waiting, Isobe and a soldier, absent reinforcements that will take a half hour to arrive, crouch and hide, hoping the battle will kill both Diclonius, and keeping the remote control for the bombs embedded in Mariko as a fail-safe. Lucy and Mariko see each other, with Mariko questioning why she came. Lucy responds that she has been Mariko's target all along, which Mariko takes as a sign of confidence, but by which Lucy means that she does not wish to involve anyone else. Mariko begins her attack immediately, shocking Lucy with the range, scope and number of her vectors. Lucy uses her ability to float, as does Mariko within her wheelchair. Pushing Mariko out of her wheelchair, Lucy vows to show mercy and kill her quickly, but this is merely met by Mariko's chuckling and her assertion that, whatever Lucy is to her, Queen or no, neither she nor anyone else can kill her. Lucy probably thought that she cut off Mariko's arm and disabled her vectors through pain because Mariko's prosthetic arm goes flying off and Lucy looks shocked when she notices Mariko's arm is a prosthetic. Mariko then begins a savage attack, slamming Lucy into a stairwell railing and banging her endlessly until she breaks off one of Lucy's horns. Isobe and the soldier feel the force of the power exchanged, till Isobe rejoices in their apparent victory over the beaten and perhaps comatose Lucy, moving to capture her. As he begins to input commands to Mariko's bombs' remote control, Kurama arrives with Nana and calls out to Mariko, who from his name realizes is her father. Mariko is overjoyed to see her father, struggling despite her infirm legs to walk over to him, finally collapsing in a heap but still happy to see him. Tears in his eyes at this sight, he still cocks his gun and aims it at Mariko, who breaks down in tears, understanding why he has come. She pleads that she survived her years of isolation and deprivation by dreaming of the day her parents would come and get her, so they could, at last, be a family, only to have him shatter that dream even as they met. Kurama proclaims what he must do today his penance for hypocritically killing the Diclonius-born children of others, only to spare his daughter. Mariko wonders why then she is the one who has suffered all this time.
Nana tries to remind Kurama of the danger they face and calls him Papa, infuriating Mariko who feels cheated and alone, displaced by a girl who isn't even Kurama's biological daughter. Mariko moves to kill Nana, both strangling and pummeling her against the railing. Kurama throws down his gun, approaches the trembling Mariko, then picks her up and embraces her, apologizing for things that he has deprived her of, like warmth and love, proclaiming that she has been on his mind every day since she was born. In his arms, Mariko becomes a little girl again. As Isobe considers his next action, Kurama promises Mariko that they will always be together from now on, and then orders Isobe to let the bombs explode. Kurama explains that he knew who he was working for, and knew what sort of measures Kakuzawa would take and that he prepared for it. Kurama urges Nana to try and have a happy life as he walks off with Mariko in his arms. A sound of vectors is heard by an unseen party as Nana and Isobe take a vantage point above Mariko and Kurama, with Isobe feeling he has no choice but to obey Kurama's final command.
Down on the bridge level, Kurama informs Mariko that her mother always wanted and loved her to her last breath and that he too always loved her, his tears confirming this as the two draw close, sensing the timer has run out at last. Brief flashes of life that could have been for the Kurama family precede the explosion that kills and destroys them both. Lucy observes her longtime nemesis die from a high vantage point, the earlier vector sound being her escape. Nana collapses in tears at the death of her Papa. Isobe drops the now-useless remote and draws a gun on Nana, intending to kill her, feeling that he can write his ticket with Kakuzawa after his successes that day. Isobe is beheaded, the culprit revealed to be a wounded Lucy on the nearby stairwell, proclaiming Humans fools, a thought Nana tries to counter with thoughts of her Papa, only to break up in tears once more. Lucy urges Nana to go back to Maple House, and there live the life she can no longer live with Kouta and the others as she walks off to face Kouta at the place she promised him.
At the Diclonius Research Institute, a fuming Chief Kakuzawa demands that the entire SAT be sent against Lucy, only caring if her head and some portion of her body survive the encounter, proclaiming his late employees all idiots. Arakawa makes a fateful decision to hide Kouta's picture and name from Kakuzawa and then makes her by-then familiar plea to be allowed to take a bath. To her shock, the Chief removes his toupee, revealing the same vestigial horns she saw on Professor Kakuzawa's head. He says that she can afford to take her time on such matters since his master plan has only just begun. As he laughs out loud, almost cackling, a badly put-off Arakawa withdraws from the scene.Kouta and Lucy meet by the stone steps as promised, where Lucy dismisses his concern about her wounds before they talk. Lucy confirms that she was, in fact, his childhood friend as well as Nyu. Lucy simply states that she was born to destroy Humans, a task she is equipped to accomplish within five years by shifting the balance of births from Human to Diclonius. But this she wouldn't do, for it would mean the death of Kouta, the only good thing in her entire hellish life. Beginning to break down, she tells that everything she has done, and every obstacle and enemy she has faced she did so gladly just for the chance to apologize to Kouta for the murder of his family. As she gets up to walk away, he grabs her and begs her to stay. Though he cannot forgive her killing Kanae and his father, he also does not wish to see her hurt anyone else, which is certain if she leaves. Kouta also says that he still loves the lonely little girl he met and most of all Nyu. Realizing that she still must leave, Lucy turns to face Kouta and kisses him passionately. Memories of their times together begin to play out. Lucy says that she wanted to forget all she knew and just remain with Kouta, and apologizes for leaving him with so many bad memories, to which he counters that she too must dwell with a lot of bad memories, to have become the way she did. They embrace tightly and then part for the last time.
Amidst a sea of searchlights, Lucy faces down the Special Assault Team, her vectors lashing out at the same time as their bullets. A horn is seen flying through the air, under it a small stream of blood.
Some time later, Wanta sleeps happily outside Maple House while Yuka chastises Kouta for not doing his chores, and threatening no lunch if he doesn't do them now. Cleaning up, he finds the seashell Nyu gave him as a replacement for the one from Kanae she broke, telling a curious Yuka it is nothing. She doesn't press him any further on this.
In the kitchen, Mayu compliments Nana's improved cooking skills but also teases her about the food she burnt in the past. While Nana calls this mean, it is evident the two are delighted by what their lives have become.
Sitting down to lunch, the Maple House Family has an extra place set by Yuka to honor Nyu's memory. They give thanks and set to eating, with Nana finding the soumen noodles delicious, awkwardly recalling she couldn't have them the terrible night they lost so many they love. Wishing Lucy and Mariko could share the meal and other wonders of life with them, Nana cries tears of joy, saying that the world around them has so many wonderful things. They eat, with Kouta a bit down at the reminder of that night, when Wanta's barking indicates they may have a guest at the outside door. The small dog barks happily, as though in recognition of someone. Inside, Kouta's music box stops playing just as the old grandfather clock starts working at last. These happenings briefly distract Kouta from the sight of a silhouette at the front door, and though it is impossible to say who this person might be, it is implied that they are Lucy/Nyu and that their story is not over just yet.
- Though it includes elements of the manga conclusion, the manga was over thirty chapters away from ending when this episode was broadcast and ends in many instances very differently than the anime series.
- The majority of events in this episode correspond to Manga Chapter 71.
- An alternate script of the original intended ending is available here.
- The Chief's talk of a then-powerless Mariko still being of use seems likely to refer to the later manga's clone storyline. This storyline, like much else from the later manga, was never adapted into the anime.