“I’d give it no stars if I could” only served to pique our curiosity.

Our Japanese-language reporter and Amazon product reviewer Masanuki Sunakoma has been doing a lot of traveling and eating out lately, so he’s been thinking it’s time to work off all those extra calories. After some browsing through the countless varieties of workout products on Amazon, he stumbled upon something called the “New Model Ab Roller”.

The New Model Ab Roller’s full name is actually the “New Model Ab Roller Automatic Rebound-style Ab Roller Ab Machine Muscle Training Abdominal Comes with a Knee Mat, Elbow Supports, Timer, and Smartphone Holder Train Your Abs and Your Core”, but that’s an awful mouthful, so we’ll just stick to calling it the New Model Ab Roller. The price, by the way, was 3,299 yen (US$24.58).

Apparently, this product is great for everyone, from beginners to seasoned athletes, and since it’s also quieter than many other products like it, it can be used in apartments, even those with thin walls, without bothering the neighbors. And to make it even more appealing, it comes pre-assembled, so you don’t even have to go through the trouble of putting it together.

The only problem was that it only had a single review, and boy, was it scathing. “It’s the literal worst product. You’ve got to be kidding me. I’d give it no stars if I could.” Obviously, something about this product enraged someone so much that they felt called to write such a withering review. But, as with all of Masanuki’s other lowest-rated Amazon product trials, this only served to deepen his interest, so he clicked “Buy Now” and waited to see if he would experience any regret.

He waited a while. It took about 10 days to arrive, so Masanuki had all but forgotten about it when it was delivered to his doorstep. The box had the Chinese characters “多攻能肘撑健腹轮” written along the side, as well as “Multifunctional Power Roller”, which he assumed was the English translation. This rang a bell, but the name was much different from the New Model Ab Roller advertised on Amazon, so it took Masanuki a minute to remember.

But once it all came back to him, the one thing he recalled being excited about was the fact that it would arrive ready to use right out of the box. And yet…

…it was definitely not pre-assembled. And what’s worse, the assembly instructions only came in Chinese.

“This is so aggravating!!!” Masanuki roared, once he’d finished fishing out the many different parts and found no other instructions.

He probably wouldn’t have been so annoyed if he’d been mentally prepared to assemble the product ahead of time, but the product page on Amazon had clearly promised “No annoying assembly required!”, and this made him even angrier.

He stared at the pictures, trying to decipher how he might assemble the pieces. It seemed like the largest piece, which looked like a toilet paper holder, was central to the design.

As he worked to decipher the pictures and use the included screws to put the product together, Masanuki’s bitterness gave him several suspicions about this product. For one, the reviewer had said, “The box was all beat up and full of holes.” Masanuki wasn’t sure if that meant the box it was shipped in, or if it was separate packaging within the box. Masanuki’s had only one box. Was it supposed to have more proper packaging?

Furthermore, the picture included in the review showed a very different mat. Masanuki began to get the eerie sense that the seller had simply bought random things on the Internet and combined them together into one product.

While Masanuki mused on these mysteries, he managed to somehow assemble the New Model Ab Roller. He honestly didn’t really know what was so new about the product, and half wondered if it was just a rip-off of some other company’s product.

Well, he’d gone through the trouble of assembling it, so he figured he might as well try it. The pictures in the manual suggested that you’re supposed to put your knees on the mat, rest your elbows on the armrest, and then roll back and forth to train your abs.

The timer that it came with was kind of a special feature, letting you easily set an interval for your workout (and see how much longer you have to suffer when you want to give up after ten seconds). Though Masanuki had some doubts about the product page’s claims and still felt resentment about the fact that he had to put it together, it really didn’t seem like “the literal worst product.” At least, not so far.

Without further ado, Masanuki gave it a try.

Oh…it actually made a lot of sense. The armrests helped keep his upper body stabilized, so it would be great for beginners. Masanuki actually found himself pretty grateful for the included mat, too.

It also had a phone holder, which, according to the product page, lets users “watch videos while you work out, so you won’t get bored.” Masanuki decided to test this feature out.

But the angle was so low he couldn’t even see his phone’s screen while rolling. This, he concluded, was not a great feature.

In conclusion, this was not, in Masanuki’s opinion, “The literal worst product.” The stability provided by the elbow rests was a really nice feature that made it more comfortable to use than a regular ab roller, and it was, in fact, a pretty quiet product. Sadly, it lost points for lying about the assembly required and for the pointless smartphone holder. All-in-all, Masanuki would give it 2.5 stars; not as good as the Nejirunba, as far as low-rated products go, but leagues better than the levitating speaker.

Source: Amazon
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