The film and the original book have a very dedicated fanbase in the LGBT community. This is especially true in the west, where they gained a cult following in the gay community. Most of the backlash toward Mei's gender flip in the CGI series comes from gay fans due to Unfortunate Implications with Mei and Gabu's interactions and relationship in the animated series compared to the film.
Mei:Ive been thinking of something the whole time weve been in this blizzard. Life eventually ends. But that doesnt mean that the fact that we met, or the time we spent together, will disappear. Right?
Designated Villain: While they don't seem like a very nice bunch in general, the wolves are still primarily portrayed as villains for doing what wolves do: eating meat to survive. Though they may have crossed the line when they decided to chase after Gabu and Mei out of spite alone.
Fridge Brilliance: The climax of the film shares a lot of similarities to the Downer Beginning. In both scenes, Mei's mother and Gabu are fighting an entire wolf pack to protect Mei, they both fight Giro, Gabu at one point lands in the exact same position Mei's mother did after being wounded, and the fight ends with her and Gabu dying or appearing to die.
Fridge Logic: Where did Mei and Gabu's scarves during their second meeting come from?
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The film has gained a cult following with the LGBT community in western countries, especially in the US. While the fanbase is small, the film gained very positive reactions and reviews with the gay community in the western anime community. Some really admired how charming the relationship between Mei and Gabu was in the film, along with the fact that One Stormy Night is as close as an animated children's film can get to having a positive depiction of a gay relationship between two male protagonists.
Narm: When Mei tries to make an amnesiac Gabu remember him at the end, it's hard not to laugh at his first choice of words being "We went on picnics together."
Gabu deciding to fight his pack when realizing they won't stop chasing him and Mei. A decision he declares by letting out a loud howl, before leaping off a tall cliff and charging them head on. During the fight, the wolves are also given glowing eyes and teeth to make them look truly terrifying, Gabu included.
The fact that despite the starvation, the exhaustion and the lethal cold while being chased by the furious wolves, Gabu and Mei finally manage to reach the emerald forest behind the giant mountain, only by themselves.
Periphery Demographic: While the book and film were aimed at a family audience, the 2005 film gained a bigger following with teens and young adults in the west, mainly with the furry fandom, anime community, and especially the LGBT community.
Values Dissonance: Controversy exists over the homoerotic overtones of the anime. Word of God confirmed that, in actuality, Mei was always intended to be a male character, but was written in the children's books as gender-ambiguous so that he'd appeal as much if he were female as if he were male. The film merely restored that gender specificity.
Viewer Gender Confusion: That incredibly adorable, doe-eyed goat who sports a pink scarf and has a deep friendship with a male wolf is a boy. It's especially noticeable due to his masculine voice.
Mei is just so gosh darn cute when he's being terrified.
Poor, poor Mei and Gabu, they just never get a break. The movie even starts off with a Tear Jerker. Mei and his mother were attacked by Giro. Mei's mother fights the wolves off, managing to rip off Giro's ear and slash his left eye. Sadly, she was killed by the wolves since she was outnumbered. Mei, without looking back, continues to run, knowing his mother won't be coming back soon. He gets rejected by his society when they find out that he is friends with Gabu. They both run away from home and decide to climb a huge mountain. When they cross the mountain, a huge blizzard incapacitates Mei and Gabu brings him into a cave. Mei is dying and he knows it too, because in order to save him from his suffering he tells Gabu to eat him so that he can survive the mountain for both of them. Such a cheerful, upbeat character, suddenly gives up hope and wants his best friend to end his misery? Even though, they both survive the mountain, Mei finds that Gabu got amnesia after getting caught in an avalanche and he only sees Mei as a delicious goat. The one true friend you finally made and had a great adventure with, suddenly wants to kill you, simply because he lost his memories of the times you've spent together that you said would last forever? Yup, Mei just hit major Woobie status. The look on his face too, was absolute shock and terror, and desperately crying and begging for Gabu to remember him didn't help matters either. It makes you want to give Mei a huge hug and tell him that you're proud that he earned his Happy Ending with Gabu!Thank God that Gabu's amnesia was only temporary. Or else...
Gabu is definitely the biggest Woobie. When he was just a pup, his mother died, and his pack mates would tease him for his cowardice.note It's never told whether that flashback took place before or after Gabu's mother died. If that flashback happened after her death, that would explain Gabu's fearfulness since he was just a pup and without a mother, he probably felt lonely and unloved. Which makes that scene a lot moredepressing.It gets worse, when the pack finds out that he's been hanging out with a goat, they punish him by making him sleep in a hole for the night. Then, after Gabu and Mei run away from home, his own Jerkass pack mates, who bullied him as a pup, are now trying to kill him. Even worse, when he and Mei are crossing the mountain, they get caught in a blizzard and take refuge in a cave Gabu dug up. They are both starving to the point where Mei looks like he won't make it. The only true friend Gabu has ever made and protected for so long, suddenly gives up hope, and offers himself as a simple meal to Gabu so he can survive. Gabu completely breaks down weeping, and when he leaves the burrow, he starts searching for grass to feed Mei, hinting that he'd rather starve to death than do it. After all that he's been through, it makes you want to give him a big hug and tell him that you're proud that he earned his Happy Ending.
For that record, Mei's grandmother. She lost her child to wolves and then experiences her grandchild befriending the same species that killed her daughter and then him running away with said species. Most likely, she believes Mei ended up killed as well.