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Sanami and Kayla

Sanami Ota and Kayla are two teenage girls in the ensemble cast of sci fi/horror comic The Woods by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynis. They are among the 513 students, teachers, and staff of the suburban Milwaukee Bay Point Preparatory High School who find themselves and their school transported to a strange world and must learn how to survive and interact with the other people who’ve also been similarly transported in the past.

Sanami is the vice president of the student council and devotes a lot of time to helping class president Maria Ramirez with projects. Control freak describes her well. School is one of Sanami’s few outlets because her parents are on the strict side and she’s confessed to her closest friend Karen Jacobs how much she hates living at home. Speaking of parents, her family was the focus of a magazine article for having a totally off the grid house in the woods. Her upbringing has made her strong willed and tenacious, traits that will aid her in the bizarre world of The Woods, though stress can make her crack and show a vulnerable side. This is evidenced when she ran away from home and hid out in a tree house in the woods. Sanami and Karen have been friends for many years, and it was Karen who figured out where Sanami was hiding and went to find and comfort her. The quality that may have attracted Sanami to become friends with Karen is Karen’s inability to take anything seriously. The feeling may have been intense enough for Sanami to develop a crush on her friend.

Kayla is introduced in a flashback scene which establishes her as Benjamin Stone‘s best friend. Kayla is a trustworthy and supportive friend as underscored by her knowledge of Ben’s sexuality and crush on fellow student Isaac Andrews. She’s so eager for Ben to be happy that she checks around to find out that Isaac will be at a cast party following a school play that she and Ben plan to attend. Her friendship is tested though when Ben introduces Kayla as his girlfriend to his father.

Writer Tynion jumps the story ahead one year after the dramatic event that climaxed in issue #12 which allows for a number of changes to occur without directly conveying them on the page. One of these events involves Kayla who is next seen on the alien world in the encampent that’s sprung up outside the school building. While adapting to a strange world during this off panel year long gap Kayla and Sanami have developed a relationship. Kayla doesn’t have the same disposition as Karen, which attracted Sanami, but she is openly affectionate to Sanami and backs up her support of her girlfriend with encouaging words and actions. However, just because Kayla is supportive doesn’t mean she won’t hold a grudge if she thinks you’ve crossed a line with her, as she thought happened with Ben’s scheme. Over a year with lingering hard feelings for Ben passes before Kayla decides enough is enough and she decides to make up with Ben after noticing how miserable he’s become.

This profile is based on volumes 1 – 5 of the series and will be updated after reading further volumes. Or feel free to give us relevant info!

Just to clarify something about Kayla’s expression in the above image. The words “My girlfriend” are spoken off panel by Ben Stone to his father on the night Ben and Kayla went to the school play. Her reactions in the image are to learning Ben’s using her as his beard and shouldn’t be confused with Sanami. This one panel seemed to offer the best close up image of Kayla.

Sanami’s first appearance is in The Woods #1 and Kayla’s is in #7 (vol 2). They’re first seen together in #13 (vol 3)

Created by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynis. Art by Michael Dialynis.

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