Oreimo comes to a conclusion with a mad rush of romance scenes we knew had to occur sooner or later. After turning down Ayase in episode 12, the suspects remaining were Kuroneko, Kirino and Manami. The anime went about having a confession scene for each one. Kyousuke first goes to Kuroneko and turns her down 'for good,' in favor of Kirino. He then confesses to Kirino, who accepts his confession after a little bit of persuasion. In actuality, Kirino had loved him for a very long time, but just hadn't had the courage to confess, for fear her feelings weren't returned. With that problem settled, however, they still had some cleaning up to do. First, Kyousuke had to turn down the confession of Kanako, who also showed feelings for him during that previous dinner yard party. Then he had to turn down Manami, who also finally confessed her true feelings for Kyousuke. With everyone finally turned down, it looks like the road for sibling romance has finally been cleared. But apparently one hurdle was too high -- society at large. They couldn't turn down society itself, including their parents, for the sake of each other.
So, after turning down every possible other love interest in his life, Kyousuke and Kirino break up as well, sharing no more than a kiss between them their entire 'dating' life. I wouldn't say they were really ever dating, because they agreed to break up before they even began. So really, Kyousuke just turned down every girl he's met throughout the whole series. Four girls because he loved someone else, and a fifth girl because he was afraid of ostracism. This isn't a very satisfying resolution, but it is a realistic one. If they want to get along with the government, the gossip of society, and their parents, they have no choice but to bury their feelings and ignore them for the rest of their lives. Their confession to each other, and the time they spent dating together, was just a way to clear the air before they could bury their feelings for good.
Once they had cleared up just exactly what their feelings for each other were, and had no regrets left because they had been completely honest with each other, they were able to deep-six their romantic feelings for each other once and for all as no longer necessary. The important thing is that their partner knew their feelings and accepted them -- the ability to act on them isn't as vital as that one truth. In fact, you could say that indulging in romantic love is all bonus after the confession. For instance, if you confessed to someone, who accepted your feelings and replied in the same manner, who then died, say, three months later, having never once taken back her feelings for you of complete devotion, would you feel that you had gained nothing? That the love wasn't real? That it had been a waste of your time and your heart?
I don't think so. I think you gained virtually everything from that fleeting love. You gained just as much as any marriage that lasted 70 years together. Because you both loved each other to the fullest, without holding anything back. You both accepted each other's feelings and approved of each other in the deepest way you possibly can. No one can take that away from you, not even death. A speeding bus can't take it away from you, it cannot revoke what was said, it cannot renounce what was proclaimed in front of each other and in front of God.
In this case, it wasn't a traffic accident that undid their confession to each other, but it was something of equivalent magnitude. Social ostracism ripped them apart against their will. They admitted to each other, from the beginning, that they were simply too weak to defiantly pursue a forbidden relationship to the bitter end, but it wasn't their love that was to blame, it was society from start to finish. If society had been more accepting, if their parents had been more accepting, it never would have come to that. No one should have to face persecution and insult when they didn't actually do anything wrong. That's the worst injustice in life, and it's not something you can ask two people to suffer just for the sake of pursuing 'bonus goods.'
Because that's what it is. Once they had secured the one thing they wanted most in life, the true love of their sibling who they truly loved -- ie, to not be rejected by the person they cared about most in the world -- there was no point starting a fight for more. They had already won their goal. They can't have children together anyway, because of all the birth defects that would imply. They can't marry anyway, because it's illegal. So all they could have done was have sex together and live together to be more 'real' than they already were. But again, it's enough that they simply told each other that they loved each other romantically. Having sex, and being told that you wish you could have sex together, if only society would permit it, is essentially as good. It's the feelings that matter, not the actual actions. If the feelings are there, as expressed from even a single loving kiss, if the two are sure of each other's feelings, they can treasure them just as highly as a couple that makes love every day for the rest of their lives.
This brings up the biggest question. Was it worth forgoing living together? Yes, for now, they'll still live together as 'normal siblings' under the house of their parents, who they did not rebel against and will not disobey. They'll be able to enjoy their lives together as usual for another three, or five, or even ten years. It's difficult for children in Japan to get a place of their own and they are expected to continue living with their family well after graduation. In those three or five or ten years, they can still enjoy each other's company and bask in each other's love -- which they secretly in their hearts know is the real deal, even if they never express it outwardly from here on. They will live as if they were a married couple for a little longer.
But if they had defied society and their parents, gotten a place of their own, and lived together in a place they could freely express their feelings, instead of just locking them in their hearts forever, including having all the sex they ever wanted -- would they have been better off? I don't know if this is even possible. In some parts of the United States, it's not even legal for siblings to cohabitate in their own place together. Perhaps Japan has the same law in order to persecute and stamp out incest to the bitter ends of the Earth. If so, living under their parents roof as 'normal siblings' is actually the closest they can ever come to marriage anyway.
But let's assume it is legal to live together, and they could pretend to be married for life even though they can never officially do so. This would buy them a slightly more affectionate atmosphere than their current one, and most importantly, far more time. Fifty more years together than they currently plan on being. But fifty years together, but apart from everyone else who has ostracized you, isn't that appealing -- especially for girls who are more social than men in the first place. Girls hate staying cooped up at home with the same guy every day, they want to go out and chat with friends and always be doing things in society. They want to be admired and thought well of in society. Kirino was the one who suggested they simply bury their feelings and break up again, so Kyousuke would have been selfish to force that kind of exile on her against her wishes. If he had forced her to go along with his selfishness, and she had become miserable alone together with him, he would have had 50 years of self-inflicted regrets instead of 50 years of happiness. Letting the love die may have been the most loving thing he could do for her.
In addition, if they stay siblings from here on, this opens up a new possibility. Whenever they're ready, they can turn over a new leaf and start a romance with someone else, have a real family with their own blood-related children, and enjoy all the things that would be denied them if they tried to have it together. I do not believe this would be 'cheating' on each other or their future spouse. It should be treated the same as a widow or widower. They did not choose to break up, it was forced upon them by external circumstances, so it's a no-fault situation. A widow remarrying is not denying his love for his previous wife, nor is he saying it currently predominates over his feelings for his new wife. They are two separate things, two separate matters, that have nothing to do with each other. He has a sacred and inviolate love for his previous wife, which nevertheless he can do nothing about -- and he also has a present duty and role to play with his current wife, which he can do everything in his power to fulfill. I think this is a best case scenario, which I kind of feel it was a waste for him to turn down now that it's come to this. I mean, Kuroneko had already accepted him, siscon and all, and would have fully understood the situation, but he still turned her down.
But I can understand this too. The two want to spend at least a little longer together without interference. They want to be 'married' as long as possible, before they move on, which is so long as they can live together with their parents while attending things like college for Kyousuke or high school for Kirino. It would have been a disservice to Kuroneko to force her to wait any longer for Kyousuke's feelings to be 'ready' for her, when she could just find a great guy whenever who has feelings only for her. In fact, in the episode itself, Kyousuke explains that he turns them all down because they were all 'too good for him.' By turning them all down, he frees them to have their own lives while he lives his life with Kirino. Overall, I believe everyone will be happier this way.
Then, when their dream ends and they can't live together anymore, they can fall for someone else, totally unrelated to the past, who will probably never know their dark secret lives together, and live just like every other normal citizen in the nation. In addition, because they never broke their family ties, they can still gather together for holidays and see each other multiple times a year without anyone casting suspicion or hatred upon them. They can still be together for life, if not as fully as could be imagined, while also having a real spouse and children to live with the rest of the time. And so long as they keep to their no-romance code they intend to follow from here on, it should work out without a hitch.
If it were me, I wouldn't have hesitated and just told the world to go fuck itself, including my parents. I would have had real children with my real sister, and used careful genetic screening to make sure it had no birth defects through artificial insemination. Fertilize a ton of eggs, then implant the ones that work, and you're good to go. I would have laughed at the idea that we aren't officially married because what God joins together, through true and devoted feelings, no man can break apart. I would have made friends with people like Kuroneko who accept my choices and despised all the bigots who didn't, not caring an inch what they said behind my back or in front of my face. But Kyousuke had more than just himself to consider in this, he had Kirino's feelings to consider too. She was the one who wanted to break up, and he simply agreed to it. Unless your little sister is as determined as you are to make the impossible possible, it's not something you should ask of her or even have a right to ask her to do for you. Kirino gave Kyousuke all she could, all that her heart had the strength to give, and asking more would have been incredibly cruel. Torn between her feelings of not being able to face anyone who knew, and the feeling of never wanting to say no to the person she loved most in the world, she would have lived forever after in a world of endless, inescapable torture no matter what choice she made. So if it were me, I would've done the same exact thing as Kyousuke -- and after hearing of Kirino's suggestion, accepted it without debate and left it at that.
I do not think they made the wrong choice -- not by confessing to each other -- not by turning down everyone else -- not by staying together as 'normal siblings' from here on, not by anything. They are truly blessed to be two of the few people in this world who have experienced true love in its final form. They will keep those feelings with them for the rest of their life no matter what else happens. They have already won the game of life, having been told by someone that they are the most important person in the other person's life, which is more than enough of a reason for being born. The 'bonus' they could have pursued came at too high a price, so they turned it down. They will still live happily ever after. I'm confident they will work something out to each other's satisfaction. And their pure love story will be written into stone without ever actually beginning.
Hopefully, in fifty or a hundred years, all the bigots who randomly persecute incestuous couples for no scientific or moral reason will all be dead. In their place will be a society of people who have watched Sword Art Online, Oreimo, Da Capo, and many other anime series that show incest is just a love story like any other, and the people deserve as much pity and mercy as any other human being on Earth. And at that time, the ending of Oreimo could have gone differently. But we are living in the present, and the reality is incest is socially dangerous, and that social ostracism is something most humans simply cannot endure. As Tiamat from Shakugan no Shana once said over and over, "Face facts. Face facts. Face facts." This is the ending Oreimo came to because this is the world we live in. Hopefully, Oreimo will be part of the foundation that changes this world, and lets people let go of their irrational hatreds. For siblings, who are opposite sex and capable of reproducing, who have often married in the past without any societal objection (like the Pharoahs of Egypt), to be treated this way, while gays, who are a wholly unnatural relationship with no history of marriage and no possibility of reproduction, to be heralded as civil rights victims and given the chance to marry legally, is the biggest farce in God's heavens. To think that people are so twisted in their thinking, have such pretzel moral systems, that they can deny the rights of incestuous lovers while simultaneously embracing the rights of gay marriage (the majority of Americans do), is about as hypocritical as life can get. The sooner gay rights are approved, the sooner the hypocrisy can be revealed, and the sooner incestuous couples can be free to pursue their dreams just like everyone else on Earth has a right to do. Right in the Declaration of Independence, the founding document of the United States, it says we have the God given right to pursue happiness. That no one can deny this to us, and anyone who does is an illegitimate sovereign. In that case, incest needs to be legalized, now. And for the same reason, socially ostracizing people who have done nothing morally wrong, who have done nothing but love each other, like every other married couple in the world, is absolutely unacceptable. Both these barriers to incest are unconscionable and must end, as soon as possible.
As liberals are fond of saying, the arc of history is long, but it tends towards justice. After gay rights are approved, incest can't be far behind. Then the next generation's Kirino and Kyousuke could have an even happier ending than the one we saw play out today.