The 22-year-old social media star has been scarce ever since he uploaded a video of himself and his friends finding the body of a suicide victim in the Aokigahara forest in Japan. He made two apologies which were poorly received by most, and then excused himself from the internet for a time.
His return is a stark contrast from the content he's usually known for. Rather than a video diary of his day-to-day life, Paul has posted a documentary-style look at his recent studies of suicide culture and suicide prevention.
The comeback is a delight to Paul's dedicated fans, who forgave him almost instantly and jumped to his defense on Twitter and other platforms.
Paul foresaw this, and even asked his followers not to defend him in his second apology. For those already invested in Paul's online character and his journey into fame, this bump in the road is an interactive plot line. They couldn't wait to forgive him.
The rest of the world likely won't forgive Paul so easily, but that didn't stop him from trying. His new video projects as much humility and maturity as the young lifestyle guru can manage. He puts an emphasis on listening to others and being present in order to prevent suicide, and promises that this is "just the beginning" of a journey into education for him.
The video may be a best-case scenario for Paul's inevitable return to YouTube, which may not draw as much attention as his original scandal did.0comments
As far as the adult audience outside of Paul's base is concerned, he's already been punished to the fullest extent. His Google Preferred status was revoked, which will impact his ad revenue, and his upcoming projects on YouTube Red and other services were cancelled or postponed.
The fourth season of the YouTube original Foursome has already begun without Paul, and the status of his movie The Thinning is unclear. While his finances may take a hit, Paul's clout with the young audience that makes up most of his viewers seems to remain unaffected.